Let’s all do our part to be safe!

The good thing about waiting to open schools until August 26th is that it gives us the opportunity to talk with colleagues around the country who opened their buildings several weeks ago. These discussions not only affirm our decision to open the doors, but I’m told, “You’re going to be surprised at how quickly kindergarten children forget they’re wearing masks.” Those were good words to hear. Kindergarten is traumatic enough on parents! 

Last week the Catholic Church throughout the state worked in unison to open our schools. It was a prayerful decision that is based on the most recent data available for gathering safely. We are following both state and federal directives for opening schools so that we are not spreading the coronavirus. Many hours of research and preparation are going into making our education as safe as possible. Some schools have had successful openings so far. We monitor their progress every day. Public schools are only four weeks behind us in their effort to also safely open. Regardless of when we open, the pandemic is mostly likely going to be an issue for this entire school year. And we are ready!

There is absolutely no doubt that group settings present a much greater threat to contracting the coronavirus. The best mitigating factors are distancing and masks. It really is that simple. Even when there may be an asymptomatic presence of the virus in our buildings, we can remain a low risk threat to each other if we simply distance and wear our mask.   

School administration and teachers are accepting the serious responsibility of educating children in the most challenging pandemic of our lifetime. We have no doubt that these children will get our best effort. But we also need every single one of our families to give us their best effort as well. There is no better family/child engagement than parents who utilize the Catholic School System. But this year we will need everyone on board with what we MUST DO to keep our school system open.  

WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR CONTAINMENT

  • We will continue to work as a faith-filled Catholic Christian community that prays like everything depends on God, but we will work as if everything depends on us.
  • Let our masks be a sign of our commitment to the people who fear this virus because of their own compromised health situations. Let our mask be a sacrificial gift to the effort our teachers will make every single day. I do NOT have to wear a mask in my office because it is secluded, but I will choose to wear my mask in solidarity with the men and women who are teaching our children under these conditions.
  • Be a courageous witness. Be a witness wherever you go. Whether it’s the ball field or a church function, wear masks when congregating, or provide plenty of distance. Catholic schools are struggling to bring some sense of normalcy back to the lives of our children. You can join this effort by being a mask wearing witness! 
  • Masks will be on children’s faces for most of the day. This gets more complicated in the younger grades. K-3 is an incredible organization of professionals and we apologize that many families will not get the full impact of their creative spirit. They cannot wait to share and celebrate what makes us truly unique under normal circumstances. But they still have many years of experience and wisdom and I trust in that wisdom and experience. They will do everything possible to find opportunities to learn, play and pray…in masks. They will also provide breaks and find time to have fun!
  • DO NOT SEND YOUR CHILD TO SCHOOL SICK! If your child has a fever before coming to school, Tylenol will only “mask” it for a few hours. If during our temperature checks we discover a fever, there are protocols which we must put in place by our back to school policy, in accordance with the CDC. KEEP YOUR CHILD HOME if there is a fever, or other defined coronavirus symptoms. 
  • Cooperate. During this adversity, we will reveal the true Christian nature of our spirituality. There will be tensions and misunderstandings. WE WILL HAVE, ON OCCASION, THE VIRUS IN THE BUILDING, but our protocols will contain it until it becomes symptomatic, and then we will follow discovery and communication protocols.
  • Families must take reasonable precautions. Visiting hotspots requires a quarantine. Make sure your children take reasonable precautions when out socializing. Become familiar with the guidelines for your building. Get your young children used to the masks!
  • Let me apologize in advancefor some of the mistakes we will make. We are trying to think of every scenario possible, but we will also learn a lot in the first few days of school. So please practice patience and put trust in our teaching professionals.
  • Transportation may be an issue. The transportation issue is outside of our control. We do not have the resources or ability to provide bus service to the schools until county busses resume. If your child MUST have transportation, please call the Central Office and leave a message and we will try to help. But we can’t make any promises.

This virus has closed nearly 150 Catholic Schools around the country. But the Owensboro Catholic grade school system is at full capacity!  Let’s agree to do whatever it takes to meet every single challenge we face this year in the Owensboro Catholic School System. And thank you for the gift of the children you are entrusting to our care! We’re ready!
 
TOM LILLY
OCS President