As New York City officials work to find solutions to keep schools safe and open during the COVID-19 pandemic, Catholic schools are working to do the same.
On Jan. 6, Dr. Thomas Chadzutko, Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Brooklyn, announced that Catholic schools in Brooklyn and Queens would be sending students home with rapid at-home COVID tests.
“Catholic schools and academies throughout the Diocese of Brooklyn, which includes Brooklyn and Queens, have received a supply of at-home COVID tests from New York City and are awaiting a delivery from New York State,” said Chadzutko. “Our schools will begin distribution upon further information from the Department of Health to ensure the most efficient use of the test kits for our school families.”
And as the Omicron variant continues to spread like wildfire throughout the city, Catholic schools across the Five Boroughs are moving to protect their students and faculty.
With the city entering another year of the pandemic, educators and faculty alike are “all weary of the COVID-19 pandemic and all the accompanying impositions on our personal lives as well as the requirements on our schools in order to remain open safely, as they have since the beginning of this pandemic,” said Michael J. Deegan, Superintendent of Schools within the Archdiocese of New York, in a statement on Jan. 2.
Since Nov. 3, 2021, children ages five to 12 are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, which both the archdiocese and diocese are encouraging parents to have their children receive so they may safely attend in-person classes.
“The experts of the Health and Safety Tasks Force of the Office of the Superintendent of Schools are evaluating all of the new guidance and information about quarantine, isolation, close contacts, testing and the associated timelines for each,” said Deegan. “While we understand that some want the policies implemented overnight, [but] as we have always done, our response will be thoughtful, intentional and always made in the best interest of all of those in our school communities.”
In the interim, Catholic schools continue set up additional infrastructure to protect their students and staff members, following Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, administrators remind those attending school in person that their schools keep everyone safe.
“We will continue to require temperature checks, face coverings, physical distancing and enhanced ventilation processes in all of our school buildings,” said Deegan. “As municipalities and health organizations struggle to stock up on these much sought-after kits, we hope our distribution of tens of thousands of test kits will provide some small measure of comfort in knowing you will have these crucial tools in your home when you are exposed to COVID.