Catholic Schools reopen: ‘You Belong Here’

By Dr. Daryl C. Hagan

Superintendent of Schools

Special to The Message

The theme “Catholic Schools: You Belong Here” for the 2020-2021 school year was chosen in the fall of 2019. If you recall at that time students were fully engaged in school and their extracurricular activities. No one could predict that in 2020 the world would experience a pandemic.

Even though we did not see what was coming, the theme for Catholic schools is central to reopening. The definition of the word belong is to be a member or part of something. As we welcome students back, let’s remember that they and their families are part of something bigger. Catholic schools are vital ministries of the parishes and diocese, and they contribute to the evangelizing mission of the Church.

I am asking families to be flexible and understanding of the new protocols as we protect the health, safety and wellbeing of students, teachers, staff and administrators. I also ask families to begin now to practice the health and safety protocols (e.g., proper handwashing, wearing masks) prior to the start of school.

Let’s also be mindful that families have children enrolled in pre-school and kindergarten programs for the first time. We want to welcome them, and all new families, to our faith community of Catholic schools. For seniors, the Class of 2021, this will be your final year in high school. I am confident that you will step up and lead your schools in faith as shining examples of Christian life. I am also asking that you lead your school in following the new safety protocols and be role models for the other students.

To ensure a successful school year for all students and families, I ask all parents/guardians to agree to the following:

  • Assist in the spiritual development of your child by attending Mass (virtually or in-person) every weekend and discussing what your child is learning in religion/theology class.
  • Send your child to school on time each day with a positive attitude about school.
  • Communicate with teachers regarding any concerns and/or questions.
  • Follow all new health and safety protocols.
  • Conduct daily screenings for your child before making the decision to send him/her to school.
  • Attend virtual meetings hosted by the school in order to be an active member of the community.
  • Check to see that all homework is completed and set high academic standards.
  • Bookmark your child’s school website and follow your school on social media to keep informed.
  • Finally, realize that educating your child is a partnership. Please volunteer at school and in your parish once we safely welcome back volunteers.

Please know that Mrs. (Michelle) Priar, Mrs. (Andrea) Greaney and I look forward to this new school year while understanding the challenges the pandemic has created. We ask you to join us in daily prayer for our priests, deacons, religious, presidents, principals, teachers, support staff, students, families and parishioners as we begin this new school year.