BALTIMORE — The Archdiocese on Friday said Catholic Schools students can return for in person classes beginning August 31, a week before Labor Day.
Teachers were told to report on August 24.
Everyone entering the building will be required to wear face coverings and have their temperature taken. Students will also have to wash their hands before and after eating. Some hallways will only allow for one-way foot traffic, while some rooms will be re-configured to follow proper social distancing.
Though the Archdiocese says most schools can safely accommodate all students in person five-days a week, some will have to begin the year under a hybrid model due to size and staffing limitations at some locations.
The final decision however will be up to students and their families, as the Archdiocese will give them the choice on whether to attend in-person classes, learn entirely remotely, or a combination of virtual and in person classes.
Superintendent of Catholic Schools Donna Hargens told the Catholic Review that the experience of being in school – with social interaction – makes learning happen, citing Karen Salmon, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools, statement on July 22 that public schools would have flexibility to open for the fall semester.
“Even though our teachers did an amazing job (when schools were closed from mid-March through the end of the 2019-20 school year), we know that face-to-face learning and experiencing learning together is the best way to learn,” she said.
According to Hargens, the decision to reopen was based off two months of discussion between formed task forces and subcommittees made up of principals, health care professionals, counselors, educators, parents and other experts.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also offered direct support, Hargens said, while a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics was also taken into account.
Friday's announcement does not include independent schools. They will be informed of the plan, but are allowed to implement their own reopening policy.