Archdiocese announces plan to reopen buildings to 70,000 students
The Archdiocese of Chicago Friday announced more details on its plans for reopening its school buildings to 70,000 students in Cook and Lake counties in the fall, which it committed to last month.
Among the plan elements and rules:
• All students over the age of 2 and school employees will be required to wear masks while indoors. Masks may be removed only during designated activities, such as lunch and recess, and only if students remain physically distant.
• Students will be assigned to a "cohort," which will correspond to their homeroom class and will remain with the same classmates all day. Students will remain physically as far apart as possible to prevent the spread of illness.
• Schools will provide new pickup and drop-off procedures, walking routes within the buildings and other measures to limit the physical interaction.
• Parents will be asked to take their children's temperatures daily. Temperature checks will also occur as students enter the school building every day.
• Schools will adhere to infection protocols, requiring any student who presents symptoms of COVID-19 and/or tests positive for the virus to quarantine and seek medical attention before returning to class.
• Families who are not ready for their children to return to classrooms will still have the option for online learning.
"We believe that in-person instruction is the best way to benefit our students and are committed to providing that instruction in a safe manner," Catholic schools Superintendent Jim Rigg said in a news release.
He said the plan was developed by school employees in consultation with medical professionals, state and local officials, educators, parents and others.
The safety and well-being of students and school employees is paramount, he said, adding that because the progress of the COVID-19 pandemic remains unpredictable, there is the potential that buildings would be closed again if a significant rise in cases occurs.
He said the system will do what it can so everyone feels safe in the buildings and that families also need to take personal responsibility for the common good as well as their own safety.
"We have worked hard to provide a reopening plan that recognizes the great benefits of in-school instruction and still expresses our commitment to the preservation of human life," Cardinal Blase Cupich said in the release. "Even in the best of times, our schools help ensure children have good nutrition and a safe place to learn. It is even more important that families have access to these benefits during the pandemic."
For more information, visit schools.archchicago.org.