Catholic Schools across the Diocese will open as scheduled, Superintendent David Kessler announced today. That means the Owensboro Catholic School System is scheduled to start classroom instruction five days a week starting Wednesday, August 26th.
Keith Osborne, Chief Administrative Officer for the Owensboro Catholic School System said that he understands and supports the Governor’s decision to change public school dates, “but we don’t have near the volume of students or circumstances to manage as they do in public schools.“ He said Catholic Schools in Owensboro have anywhere from 90 to 100 students in each grade.
“Our leadership team spent all summer establishing strict protocols that align with the CDC guidelines for coming back to school,” Osborne said. “We will observe physical distancing and masks are required for every person in the building.” He also said that every person who enters a school building will first have their temperatures taken every day (grade school students will have theirs taken in the car), and there are single file student traffic flows throughout the buildings. He said school leadership has stepped through multiple scenarios and worked with local health department officials to prepare responses for symptomatic students. In addition, the school ordered protective, clear desk separators and will have nightly sterilization procedures in place for all the classrooms.
Osborne said the lack of transportation will be a significant issue for parents living in the county. The system has no plans or resources to provide transportation. He also said the only distance learning offered were to families with compromised health care situations in the home.
“We aren’t equipped to handle every single situation, but we’re going to work with individual circumstances the best way we can. This is not going to be a normal year. But we have resourceful, creative teachers who will be challenged in ways that education has never been challenged. We want to make sure they have the resources and time to cope with the things they will face this school year.” He said there are plans to take advantage of good weather and open spaces in the building.
“Safety is always our number one priority,” Osborne said. “We have great community support with the decision.” He said parents and teachers understand the significance of making sure the school does not spread the virus. He said the decision to come back to school was unanimously supported by the principals. “Now it’s on our families and educators to become models of charity and concern for the most vulnerable among us, by not spreading the disease.”
The Catholic Bishops of Kentucky met Tuesday to discuss recommendations from their superintendents to keep the fall school year on schedule. They complimented government efforts to protect the spread of the virus, but agreed that their school systems were much more manageable in size, and little would change between now and the September 28thopening school date established by the Governor.