Some Catholic school students could be switching to remote learning sooner than planned.
The Archdiocese of Chicago has announced schools will have the option to transition to remote learning after Thanksgiving, but says it’s not yet clear how many schools will choose to do that. Catholic schools had already been set to go fully remote for the first two weeks of 2021 to allow a quarantine period after Christmas break.
The possibility for schools to hold all classes remotely after Thanksgiving comes amid a nationwide spike in coronavirus cases and public health concerns that travel and family gatherings will further contribute to the spread of the virus. The Archdiocese said parents and staff at about 80% of schools supported the idea of continuing with the current plan, while 20% expressed a desire to begin remote learning or a hybrid model.
Justin Lombardo, chief human resources officer for the Archdiocese, says school leaders looked at “the current trajectory of the pandemic, particularly during the holiday season.
“We were looking at what our parents are saying to us, (what) questions they’re asking. We’re also looking at operational issues, particularly the stress and the extra workload on teachers to manage a dual mode of teaching, because many of them teach both remotely and also have to take care of the in-classroom (students)," he said.
There have been fewer than 10 cases of “secondary spread” in Catholic schools, the Archdiocese said. Lombardo says schools have stayed committed to health and safety protocols such as wearing masks and washing hands, in addition to regular cleaning, students staying with a single cohort all day, and strict tracking of cases and quarantines when necessary.
“We also visit the schools regularly on a random basis … to make sure that the standard protocols we want followed are being implemented correctly, and we find very few schools where we have to intervene,” Lombardo said.
Whether schools switch to remote learning after Thanksgiving or after the Christmas break, Lombardo said the Archdiocese is “fully expecting” to resume in-person learning in January.