Catholic schools run by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles plan to resume classroom instruction this fall with safety measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, archdiocese officials announced Tuesday.
The Department of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles runs more than 200 schools across L.A., Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. The start of the academic year varies for each campus, but the semester typically begins from late August to September, spokesman Adrian Alarcon said.
In a letter, Superintendent Paul Escala said the school community should anticipate safety protocols including:
- physical distancing
- facial coverings
- frequent hand washing
- keeping students in class-level cohorts
- use of outdoor spaces for instruction
- no-touch temperature checks upon entry
The archdiocese said it worked with state authorities to secure a 30-day supply of face coverings and shields, hand sanitizers and no-touch thermometers without schools having to pay for them.
Archdiocese officials said they’re also negotiating with vendors so schools can buy personal protective equipment at wholesale prices. They have secured funds through philanthropic partners as well to ensure that schools serving the “most impoverished students” have the necessary PPE for children and staff.
“The lack of funds to purchase PPE should not prevent a school from opening in-person, nor prevent students from learning together,” Escala said in a statement.
The reopening process will be informed with guidance from state and local officials, and school leaders can expect further details at a later time, the archdiocese said.
The California Department of Education and the Los Angeles County Office of Education have each released detailed frameworks for reopening.
“Our goal is to strike a balance between preventing the spread of COVID-19 and providing our students with the education, nutrition, physical activity, and mental health benefits offered through the reopening of Catholic schools,” Escala said.
Like most schools in the region, L.A. Archdiocese campuses switched to online learning in March.
L.A. Unified School District said it will start the new school year on Aug. 18, but it’s still unclear whether in-classroom learning for local public schools can resume by then.
LAUSD and other districts have voiced concerns that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget cuts, prompted by the financial toll of the pandemic, could delay the reopening of schools.
Health officials across the U.S. also worry that the loosening of quarantine rules may lead to a second wave of COVID-19 shutdowns.