Catholic school administrators, teachers and staff have been very busy over the past several weeks, working on a plan to safely reopen and maintain in-person instruction this fall. Many of them have already reopened and others are planning to do so in the days to come.
Schools are also offering distance learning for students whose parents choose not to send their children to the schools. But in my very limited survey of Catholic schools in central PA, it sounds like most parents are choosing to send their children for in-person learning. The schools I have talked to have also reported that just about all of their teachers are returning as well.
At St. Patrick’s School in Carlisle, Principal Antoinette Oliverio says about 12 children will be learning remotely while nearly 350 were expected for the first day, which was this past Wednesday. She says staff members are very excited and are calling for prayers to make sure things go as safely as possible.
The work continues with the PA Catholic Conference and with diocesan officials across the state to make sure that busing and nursing services are provided for our students. Many schools had originally hesitated on providing transportation for non-public school students when their own kids were doing only on-line instruction. We reminded them that our Catholic school parents pay their property taxes in addition to tuition, and that the state requires them to provide transportation. The efforts have been largely successful, with only 26 districts (most of them in Montgomery and Chester Cos.) not committing to transportation out of 500 in Pennsylvania.
We continue to advocate for adequate nursing services in our Catholic schools. This is also something that is mandated by the state. That has been an on-going battle, but one that we are not going to stop fighting.
As Antoinette Oliverio mentioned, all of these schools– with their parents, teachers, students and administrators—would greatly appreciate your prayers!