We have been blessed throughout previous academic years with families who understand the importance of our mission for Catholic Education and who are committed to working alongside us to accomplish these goals. This year, while unbelievably challenging, has demonstrated the level of commitment our families have to support the Catholic Academies and Parish Schools within the Diocese of Brooklyn. It is incredible to witness. I find it inadequate to simply say thank you, as those words don’t even begin to cover my gratitude for your unending support but nonetheless, I will try.
With just two months left of 2020, we reflect today on the months passed and are reminded of the many changes that we and our families, friends, and colleagues have undergone. In these unprecedented and frightening times, it may be difficult to find things to be grateful for this holiday season.
An uncertain year and uncertain times have had the potential to turn our perception of this time of year around, but through faith, we are reminded of the many possibilities for blessing that have touched us. As you read on, reflect on the moments of happiness that have shined through the bad and the chaotic.
The Joy of Family and Friends in Times of Darkness
The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the ways in which we view the time we spend with our families. We learn to cherish the moments we get with them, whether face-to-face or virtually. In times of darkness, we learn to hold on to our loved ones for comfort and stability, and it’s through our family and our friends that we find the strength to continue on when we feel discouraged or alone.
Sharing experiences and offering words of advice or understanding bring us close together. Enjoying the presence and existence of our loved ones will help guide us toward happiness. Let us be thankful for them.
Health in Uncertainty
With over nine million reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States, our health should be precious to us. Every day that we wake up in good health is a blessing, and we must take care to never take our well-being for granted.
Health serves as the foundation for the most powerful human joys and sorrows in life, and without it, we are truly unable to live our infinitely important lives to the absolute fullest, as God wants for us. Each day, remember how important your health is – to yourself and for the people around you. Let us be thankful for good health and the front-liners that put their own lives on the line to ensure it for the nation.
Let Gratitude Shine When Things Feel Dark
In darkness, one of the most effective ways to cope with pain, loss, and sadness is to let gratitude shine through with every interaction you have. This is difficult, and you may find yourself unable or unwilling to show thankfulness in moments when life seems anything but fair. A wonderful first step is to begin with the people you love. Let them know how thankful you are to have them in your life, and love and joy will come from your togetherness.
In today’s world of living and teaching, our children are faced with a unique and unprecedented set of challenges as they navigate the early years of their lives at home and at school. With challenges comes uncertainty, and your child may be feeling a number of ways about the changes that have been thrusted upon his or her life in the last several months.
To help your child grow and explore successfully without the weight of uncertainty weighing heavy on his or her shoulders, it’s important to foster environments with a foundation of faith. Through faith, your child will continue the journey through life with the strength to think about and take on the challenges that lie ahead, but also the courage to enjoy childhood as much as a child can, regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
A Verse for Comfort and Guidance
For generations, one of the most comforting verses in the Bible reminds us of God’s unconditional love for us – that he will lead us forward in times of uncertainty, guiding us through the darkness in our lives to the light of His grace and forgiveness. Through His words, we feel empowered.
Read the Bible with your child to encourage study of God’s word, and find verses that you both find comforting, inspirational, or uplifting. Psalm 23 (NAB) is a fantastic place to start and reminds us of God’s love that will guide us along the right path:
The Lord is my shepherd there is nothing I lack. In green pastures he makes me lie down; to still waters he leads me; he restores my soul. He guides me along right paths for the sake of his name. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me. You set a table before me in front of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Indeed, goodness and mercy[e] will pursue me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the Lord for endless days.
Through the gospel, we can find words of encouragement and strength aplenty – we need only seek them out.
Catholic Schools in Brooklyn and Queens Will Remain Open
The Superintendent of Catholic Schools for Brooklyn and Queens today has announced that all 69 schools and academies will remain open and continue to provide in-person learning, irrespective of any impending decision pertaining to the status of New York City public schools.
Catholic schools in the Diocese in Brooklyn and Queens have provided safe, five days a week in-person learning since beginning this school year, as scheduled, on September 9. The Superintendent has also requested the Department of Education’s Office of Non-Public Schools continue to provide services for Catholic school students, which they are entitled to, including school nurses, transportation, and food, if public schools are to close.
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 -Sore Throat -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.
Sincerely, 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.
Parents and Guardians of Catholic Academy and Parish School Students,
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.
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 and addressed the health and safety concerns of everyone. Having your children return allowed each school community to see their students in person, welcoming their children back with a smile and a socially distant wave and engage the students in learning from the classroom setting. Whoever thought this would be the way learning would occur in 2020? However, by everyone working together, we are all back stronger and ready to tackle what lies ahead. We once again wanted to remind you of basic tenets to support a heathy and safe environment:
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
Dear Heavenly Father,
sent us your Son,
great is your goodness,
great is your love.
as we send our children back to school,
trust again in your care for them,
them see clearly that which is good and reject all evil.
their teachers—guide their hearts.
our children learn and grown, always in your
and under your protection. Let us teach
stand firm, upon convictions yet be merciful and kind.
them, oh Lord. Bless them. Pour out your
grace. Let your glory shine in their
when they suffer, let us understand how to comfort them
hindering your character-building process.
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.