Several DC-area Catholic schools prepare to reopen classrooms

About half of the Archdiocese of Washington’s 91 schools — 49% — will reopen this fall with a combination of in-person and virtual classes.

About 28% of schools will go all virtual; 23% will hold all in-person classes.

Students and teachers returning to school buildings will get daily health screenings before they can enter; face coverings will be required; and classrooms will be set up for proper social distancing.

Parents who are not comfortable with in-person classes can temporarily transfer their child to a different school that offers all online learning.

The archdiocese allowed individual schools to choose one of the three operating options. Each school then gathered input from the community and came up with its own customized reopening plan.

“Because the pandemic is a health matter, a great deal of consideration was given to thoroughly research safe practices for return,” Archbishop Wilton Gregory said in a video to teachers and staff.

“As we move to reopen schools for the new school year in a variety of models, we will take a careful step toward normalcy in our daily lives. This will be a long journey — one that will rely on our perseverance and our commitment to the new health and safety guidelines that will govern how schools operate.”

The archdiocese Tuesday released a summary of its school reopening plans, along with links to individual schools.

In contrast, most K-8 schools in the Catholic Diocese of Arlington — about two-thirds — will open with all in-person classes modified for safety.

In an Aug. 3 video to parents, Superintendent Joseph Vorbach said that he and Bishop Michael Burbidge — along with school leaders — heard from “an overwhelming number of parents” who wanted in-person classes five days a week.

“From the beginning, Bishop Burbidge and I have emphasized an important point, and it’s worth repeating,” Vorbach said. “The health and safety of the students, parents and Catholic educators is our first priority. After consulting with school principals, we believe we can reopen while maintaining our high standards of health and safety.”

In a back-to-school video message to parents Tuesday, Burbidge said it was “only natural” for parents to feel “somewhat uneasy” amid all the precautions being taken.

“It reflects the care and love you have for your children at a delicate time in our nation’s history,” he said. “I want to reassure you, the teachers, faculty and staff at our diocesan schools love your children, too. They have worked tirelessly throughout the summer to ensure that in whatever way they reopen, it would be with your children’s best interests at heart.”

Burbidge added that the diocese will keep monitoring the situation and make adjustments if they’re needed.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter and anchor at WTOP.

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