Students arrive for the first day of school at St. John Vianney High School, Holmdel, in this 2019 file photo. School officials are working on back-to-school plans for 2020 in times of COVID.  John Batkowski photo
Students arrive for the first day of school at St. John Vianney High School, Holmdel, in this 2019 file photo. School officials are working on back-to-school plans for 2020 in times of COVID. John Batkowski photo
Work is progressing on a plan to return the Diocese’s Catholic school students and faculty to the classrooms this September in a way that ensures optimal health and safety for all.

JoAnn Tier, diocesan superintendent of schools, explained that she and her counterparts across the state have worked together to come up with a draft document that is being adapted for each of the five dioceses. The goal, Tier noted, is to have the completed plan ready to distribute to parents in early August.

Tier explained, “Each of our schools has a task force who will address health and safety issues as well as the academic component. While we are planning to go back to the physical locations, the need for remote instruction can occur at any point.  Each task force will be looking into the school’s readiness with technology, needed equipment and professional development and transportation, along with all of the other concerns related to preserving the health of those who will be returning.”

In a July 13 letter to parents, Tier stressed how the Diocese’s principals, teachers and staff have been spending their summer break planning for the 2020-2021 school year as new regulations unfold.

“As you can imagine, there is much detail, reflection, consideration, and unanticipated expense as health and safety aspects provide the focus for continued learning and growth for all students,” Tier wrote. “Flexibility continues to be the mantra in creating this plan as changes are often revealed from key agencies on a day-by-day basis. With new information and guidance available, changes to the plan are anticipated.”

The school task forces, she explained, have been taking guidance from the state Governor’s Office; Dr. Lamont Repollet, the state commissioner of education; the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. In addition, school officials are working with the document “Leading with Hope,” a guide for Catholic Schools in the new reality of COVID-19, produced by Loyola University, Chicago.

“Spirits remain high,” she said. “Our administrators, faculty and staff are committed to providing an exceptional Catholic education for all students. They are committed and dedicated individuals and know the benefits of hard work to provide the best educational environment for your child(ren).”