Task force to help plan fall Catholic school reopening

| May 19, 2020 | 0 Comments

Expecting schools to open in the fall in Minnesota, the Office for the Mission of Catholic Education is laying the groundwork to create a unified effort at opening those doors in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

In a May 18 memo to Catholic school leaders, the office credited Catholic schools for their quick and effective response to going online-only since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, being together in the same space is an essential mark of Catholic education, and as school officials look to the fall, there appears to be no reason to think that school buildings won’t reopen, the office said.

To help make that effort go smoothly, the office announced a Catholic Schools Task Force that beginning June 1 will help coordinate messages on the opening of Catholic schools for the 2020-2021 school year, write protocols on how to safely open buildings and structure the learning environment, and develop contingency plans should a school be disrupted by COVID-19. The task force also will identify needed resources such as funding and medical and safety equipment.

While the task force’s work will primarily focus on K-8 Catholic schools, Catholic high schools also could benefit from the work being done, the memo said.

Needs beyond funding and equipment will include recommendations for social distancing practices; acquisition of cleaning and sanitation supplies and schedules; accommodations for students, teachers, and staff who may be in high-risk groups; preparedness plans and responses to community outbreaks; and relationships with public school districts for provision of services related to transportation, academic support, counseling and nursing, the memo said.

Mike McGinty, principal of Good Shepherd Catholic School in Golden Valley, will co-chair the task force with Emily Dahdah, associate director of the Office for the Mission of Catholic Education.

Members of the task force include Jane Bona, principal of Immaculate Conception in Columbia Heights; Kate Wollan, principal of Nativity of Our Lord, and Kevin Ferdinandt, headmaster of St. Agnes School, both in St. Paul; and a representative of the Catholic Finance Corp. Experts in finance, communication, law and public and mental health will augment the task force’s work as needed.

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