|Dear Catholic Academy and Parish School Families, |
Since September, our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools have been open and operating safely and efficiently. Thank you for your support in ensuring our guidelines for health and safety have been followed. Every person in our extended Catholic Academy and Parish Schools’ community has the responsibility to observe social distancing and wear a mask. This is what will keep the doors to our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools open; this is what will continue to keep everyone at our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools safe and healthy. Our principals, teachers and health aides have rigorously enforced health and safety protocols in our Catholic Academy and Parish Schools. For all this is being done on a daily basis, we are most grateful.
However, as students’ participation in outside extracurricular activities increases, the possibility of exposure to individuals who are positive for COVID may increase for both the students and their families. The same outcome can be true for attending any event with large numbers of people. This past week we have seen a very slight uptick in positive cases, and every positive case has been traced back to exposures at gatherings, parties, and events outside of the Catholic Academy/Parish School. We are sending this letter as a stark reminder COVID protocols do not end at the end of the school day and/or take the weekends off!
With that being said, it is crucial that every family completes the daily self-screening checklist, prior to sending their children to the Catholic Academy/Parish School.
If you can answer YES to any of the questions, your child may NOT enter the Catholic Academy/Parish School building. You MUST contact a health professional for guidance and notify the Catholic Academy/Parish School principal.
As a reminder, the questions are:
1) If your child has any of the following symptoms, that indicates a possible illness, which may decrease the student’s ability to learn and put them at risk for spreading illness to others. Does your child have any of these symptoms?
-Temperature 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
-New uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing (for students with chronic allergic/asthmatic cough, a change in their cough from baseline)
-Diarrhea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
-New onset of severe headache, especially with a fever
-Shortness of breath Fatigue
-Muscle or body aches
-New loss of taste or smell
-Congestion or runny nose
-Nausea or vomiting
2) To the best of your knowledge, in the past 14 days, has your child been in close contact (within 6 feet for at least 10 minutes) with anyone who has tested positive through a diagnostic test for COVID-19 or who has or had symptoms of COVID-19?
3) Has your child or a member of your household traveled internationally or from a state with widespread community transmission of COVID-19 per the New York State Travel Advisory in the past 14 days.
According to the New York State Department of Health, your child will need to receive a note of medical clearance and a negative PCR COVID test to return to school, should they develop any symptoms or be sent home from school.
What else can we all be doing to maintain a safe environment for all? We can limit our exposure to large groups of people, continue to practice good hand hygiene, have a supply of masks on hand so that the fabric masks can be washed daily, and ensure everyone in your family receives a flu shot and all immunizations are kept up-to-date.
We truly appreciate everyone’s honesty, cooperation and dedication, to keeping our schools safe and healthy places of learning. During the month of the Most Holy Rosary, we continue to entrust our students, teachers, principals and staff to our Lady; the cause of our hope and joy.
Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D.
Superintendent ~ Catholic School Support Services
Children thrive in environments that foster learning, understanding, and exploration, and your relationship with them as a parent or guardian is there to give them the tools they need to succeed both personally and academically. One of the most important tools for your child to learn is goal setting.
According to research conducted by the University of Scranton, more than 90 percent of people who set New Year’s goals for themselves don’t achieve them. Does that sound unbelievable? Encourage your children to chase their dreams and aspirations, and make them realize it is possible to consistently and effective accomplish the goals you set for yourself – it all begins with setting goals that are reasonable.
Goal-setting is important to the growth of any child. Your child will use this skill throughout his or her life, in many different situations and circumstances, and it’s best to practice it together early on. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to teach the skill of goal setting to your child and encourage them to practice the skill independently through faith. Below are a few simple steps to teach your child the skill of goal setting and how to do it effectively.
1. First, set reasonable goals. Teach your child the difference between reasonable and unreasonable goals. Help them to recognize the time it takes to accomplish things, and whether the task is truly achievable. Children can do whatever they set their minds to, that part is true, but the key to setting reasonable goals begins with recognizing what it takes to get the job done.
2. Come up with a plan. Goals are achieved through thoughtful planning and strategy. Having a plan is particularly useful when your child is working toward a long-term goal. Work together to develop a course of action that is manageable. If the goal is school-related, reach out to teachers to work with them to discuss your child’s goals and how you can all work together to develop a plan away from home.
3. Be consistent. Sticking to our goals is often the hardest part of the entire process. It can be difficult to always feel determined and to find the motivation to continue making progress. Assure your child that the journey that is goal setting will be frustrating at times, but that the feeling of accomplishing the goals he or she has set are well worth the struggle. Together, talk about the challenges of the goal and how they best be overcome.
4. Trust in God. Having faith and trust in God will uplift your child’s spirits and encourage them to keep working toward his or her goals. Invite your child to pray together, to find the strength and determination to complete the tasks set before him or her with grace and skill.
Now more than ever, the mental health and well-being of your child is crucial to his or her growth and success as the fall semester continues in full swing. From the excitement and fear that comes with such a tumultuous year to the confusion of struggling to adapt to new home and learning environments, it’s necessary for your family to support your child as he or she navigates the new terrain of distance learning (or face-to-face with new restrictions and guidelines).
The key to fostering an optimal environment for learning, in the home and beyond, is to instill in your child the knowledge that he or she will always have your family there as unwavering foundation of support. To do this, keep repetition and positive enforcement in mind, especially for younger children.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “1 in 6 U.S. children aged 2–8 years (17.4%) had a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder.” Always remember that, above all, the mental health and well-being of your child is most important during this transitional time, both in school and world at large.
Maintaining your child’s mental health and well-being is a big task for any parent, but it doesn’t have to be scary. There are simple steps you can take every day that will be a positive influence on your child as he or she continues to navigate the new spaces and environments we find ourselves in.
1. First, make sure your own mental health is stable and that you’ve developed and are comfortable with your own methods of coping and being well before you attempt to apply the same practices with your child.
2. Focus on building senses of trust and compassion. Make sure your child understands that you and your family are always right behind him or her, no matter what. This will allow your child to go forth with confidence.
3. Practice repetition and consistency. Children grow and understand things best through repeated exercises and reinforcement. Most children crave routine and structure, so it’s important to build and maintain a home that your child can comfortably view as a safe space.
4. Establish healthy habits. From eating greener foods to enforcing a stricter bed time, your child will benefit from sticking to a fuller, healthier routine. Turn exercise into play time by throwing around a ball or going on a walk together in the park.
5. Encourage the development of self-esteem. You can give your child all the support in the world, but the most effective coping mechanism is self-esteem. Ensure that your child understands his or her worth and the importance of individuality in today’s world.
6. Pray! Nothing heals the soul like a conversation with God.
Dear Parents and Guardians of Catholic Academy and Parish School Students,
The past seven months have been like no other in all my years in Catholic education and probably like no other in the history of American education. Despite the many challenges, I have been inspired by the heartfelt actions of our principals, teachers, and parents throughout this pandemic. I am also sincerely appreciative of what our parents, teachers and school leaders are continuing to do, to support our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools, as we begin the 2020-2021 school year.
Catholic schools are faith communities and while our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools did an outstanding job moving to online learning, we missed having the students in class and couldn’t wait to pray, learn and play together again. Most families over the summer, indicated they felt the same way. Some families chose to return to the 2020-2021 school year remotely, with their decision to enroll in the Saint Thomas Aquinas Distance Learning Program, with online instruction. Saint Thomas Aquinas will begin on September 16, 2020.
Our re-opening days last week, were well-planned, focused on the details
We thank you again for partnering with us, allowing us to develop and educate the children you have entrusted in our care.
In closing, I share the prayer below:
Back to School Blessing
Dear Heavenly Father,
You sent us your Son,
how great is your goodness,
how great is your love.
Now as we send our children back to school,
we trust again in your care for them,
let them see clearly that which is good and reject all evil.
Bless their teachers—guide their hearts.
May our children learn and grown, always in your
sight and under your protection. Let us teach them how
to stand firm, upon convictions yet be merciful and kind.
Guide them, oh Lord. Bless them. Pour out your
loving grace. Let your glory shine in their lives.
And when they suffer, let us understand how to comfort them
without hindering your character-building process.
You are the architect of a holy life. Build our
children up according to your will.
Oh loving Lord, our children are yours, since
the beginning of time. Thank you for their lives.
Bless and protect their souls.
In Jesus’ name. Amen
Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D.
Superintendent ~ Catholic School Support Services
September 2, 2020
Dear Parents and Guardians:
We hope you and your children are doing well and preparing for the reopening of our Brooklyn and Queens Catholic Academies and Parish Schools next week on Wednesday, September 9, 2020.
I am sure that many of you are wondering how Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement yesterday, delaying the opening date of New York City public schools until September 21, might impact us. We want to assure you that our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools will NOT be affected by this decision. We are proceeding with our plan to reopen on September 9 in either of two ways: 100 % in-person or hybrid. Our St. Thomas Aquinas Distance Learning Program will begin orientation on Wednesday, September 16, 2020
We expect that the New York City – Department of Education will fulfill its obligations to our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools. By New York City Education Law, the Department of Education must provide essential services like nurses, transportation, meals, and special education and related services. Other services like security guards and crossing guards are provided to us through other agencies.
It is also our expectation that the NYC Pre-K For All Programs will start as previously determined by your Catholic Academy or Parish School.
Again, we look forward to welcoming your children back to school, as scheduled, next Wednesday, September 9th. Principals, board members, teachers, and the entire school staff at our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools have worked tirelessly this summer to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment is in place for all our students, faculty, staff and parents. Our re-opening plans are in compliance with updated mandates and guidance from New York City, New York State, Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control. Please make sure that you review your Catholic Academy/Parish School Re-Opening Plan available on their website
May everyone be healthy, safe, and well as you enjoy these last few days of summer.
Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D.
Superintendent ~ Catholic School Support Services
No matter your child’s age, a routine is incredibly important to his or her success inside the classroom and at home. Now more than ever, routine is at the foundation of our children’s day-to-day lives, and it is important to establish a routine that works for your family.
With the new school year quickly approaching, consider your child’s current routine and how it can be adapted to better suite an unprecedented back-to-school season.
The Importance of Routine in the Time of COVID-19
Learning to cope with change is healthy, but when everything seems to change all at once, daily life can become overwhelming for your young student. Without life and learning routines, children can feel confused and lost, and they may be unable to navigate the world around them in the ways that will lead them toward success.
With a routine firmly in place, your child will feel more confident in taking on the days ahead. He or she will feel more comfortable with making decisions, solving problems, interacting with their environment, and communicating with others. By giving our children the tools they need to succeed, it’s more likely that they will!
Building a Routine that Works for You and Your Child
To begin establishing a routine for your child, first consider how you feel when you allow yourself to slip out of your life and work routines – do you feel pressure without a plan in place? In what ways do you struggle to operate without a set of daily tasks and milestones in place? How difficult is it to feel motivated to adopt your routine again?
Think about the ways you’ve coped with changes over the past few months and how you’ve adapted to a new routine – a new “normal” – and how you can adapt those mechanism to work for your child as the new school year approaches.
Feeling Safe at School with a Routine
As some schools prepare to open for in-person class, make sure you’re child enters the school year with clear expectations and a plan for dealing with a changing learning environment. Before the first day of school, review the learning routine you’ve established for your child. Ensure he or she understands the importance and the process of social distancing, washing hands frequently, and wearing face masks.
Salve Regina, Our Lady of Trust, and St Joseph the Worker Catholic Academies are examples of all the locations preparing for school this year – see the story on Currents News on NET TV:
Our Catholic Academy and Parish Schools are preparing to reopen for classes on Sept 9th. Most will be able to accommodate full day in-person classes, meeting health and safety guidelines. Some will operate on a hybrid, and there is full distance learning option available. Your local school has, or will be holding information sessions. Please contact your school or Principal with questions and we look forward to the 2020-21 academic year!
The following plans are intended to serve as a transition from summer leisure to a school routine. Plans prepared for the weeks of August 17 and 24th focus on themed activities for different subject areas. While the activities follow the same theme, they can be completed in isolation. Your child can pick and choose from activities based on their interests.
Plans prepared for the week of September 3rd are designed not only to prepare your child for academic activities as the school year starts but also to prepare them for returning to a school setting that looks different than it did. Activities focus on addressing changes in the school, guidelines for students to follow, and feelings students might have about this new school year. As your child engages in the activities, pay particular attention to their reactions. It is important to be available to talk to your child about any concerns or stresses they might have coming into this new school year and to frame the conversation in a positive way. Validate your child’s concerns and worries but also present them with information and positivity to help their thinking. For example, your child may be concerned about wearing a mask. You can agree that wearing a mask can be challenging but then follow up with why masks are important and fun things you can do even with a mask on.
The following link provides resources for parents to help prepare their child to go back to school as well as identify potential stressors, how to talk to your child, and how to provide mental health support for your family during this difficult time.
There are also many e-books available for free to download or to read online with your child. These books address information about COVID-19, staying at home, and feelings one might have about the pandemic
During this time, both children and parents are undoubtedly feeling the strain from the uncertainties of COVID-19. We must continue to stay positive, put our trust in God, and work to make our schools the safest places for our children. We are looking forward to opening our doors and finally being able to greet (from 6 feet away, of course) our students and families.