Diocesan Catholic schools opening Aug. 17

Comprehensive plan addresses protocols

With the input of teachers, counselors, and principals the Diocese of Venice Department of Education has completed the school reopening plan and Aug. 17, 2020 is the date all Diocesan Catholic Schools will open for the 2020-2021 academic year.

In addition, parents are being provided the option of allowing their child to participate in synchronous at-home learning, whereas a student logs in from home via a computer for a live-stream option that follows his or her same on-campus classroom instruction schedule.

The announcement of the opening date and school options were delivered to Catholic School parents through a letter dated July 24, 2020 from Diocese Superintendent of Catholic Schools Father John Belmonte, S.J. With an emphasis on safety, the letter states the original start date (Aug. 10, 2020) was pushed back by one week to give school principals and teachers needed time to prepare for a safe start to the school year.

“Reopening our schools was an evolving process that has required careful planning,” Father Belmonte wrote. “The plan includes the guidance and recommendations from the Florida Department of Education, Florida Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Father Belmonte continued. “It attempts to augment and clarify how and when these guidelines relate to our Catholic schools. Rigorous cleaning and sanitizing protocols, requirements for face coverings and social distancing, resources for school leaders and a dedication to the best Catholic education possible are found in our reopening plan.”

In addition to the letter, a “Summary Guide for Students, Parents, and Their Families” and “Quick Reference Guide for Parents” are on the Diocesan Education website (www.dioceseofvenice.org/education). The documents outline how every school will maximize the health and safety of persons on campus while mitigating risk and community spread as they move into the academic year. Each principal has also produced an individual school plan that covers specific details of his or her respective campus.

As noted previously, all Diocesan Catholic schools will offer an alternative at-home learning opportunity for students in high risk populations. Those who have chosen synchronous at-home learning, do have the freedom to switch to traditional face-to-face learning during the school year. Those decisions will be made with the school principal. In addition, if a student needs to quarantine at home, this at-home learning option will be available to that student until he or she can safely return to school.

“For the trust you place in the Diocese of Venice by enrolling your child in a Catholic school, know that we are humbled and grateful,” Father Belmonte wrote. “Your child and his or her well-being is of great importance to us. We know of their desire to be in their social milieu and our survey confirms your wish to see them back at school.”

Father Belmonte added that during “the past four months, we have learned in a deeper way, the value and importance of our Catholic schools. Our Catholic Faith teaches us that it is Christ who is the reason for our schools. As we open this fall, recall that we teach Christ Himself. It is Christ who teaches us, rescues us, saves us, redeems us, heals us, unites us, forgives us, and loves us. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. In preparing to open our schools, let us remain focused on Christ who is the reason for our schools, the reason we teach, and the reason why we will gather, prudently and safely in the Fall.”

Please check with your local Catholic school website for specific reopening guidelines. In addition, the Diocese Department of Education will be providing relevant updates on its website at www.dioceseofvenice.org/education.