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School Reopening Family Letter from the Superintendent

Dear Parents and Guardians of Catholic Academy and Parish School Students,

The changes in our lives due to the COVID-19 have been many. Unfortunately, the impact of the virus continues to change the most fundamental aspects of how we live, including how we hold school, which is the purpose of this letter. While we cannot predict what the COVID-19 pandemic will look like this fall, the Catholic Academies and Parish Schools are planning to implement a number of enhanced health and safety measures, based on guidance from local health and government authorities.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), aside from a child’s home, there is no other setting which has more of an influence on a child’s health and well-being than their school. The in-person school environment: provides academic instruction; supports the development of social and emotional skills; creates a safe environment for learning; addresses nutritional needs; and facilitates physical activity.

School leaders have been working tirelessly to develop plans for the safe return of as many students as possible, to in-person school, in order to best meet students’ academic, social-emotional and faith-based needs. Over the coming weeks, we will be meeting with principals, Board Chairs and Pastors, to discuss site-specific plans. Based upon the current medical status, the expectation today is for students to return to full in-person instruction in September; however, schedules may vary, and these reentry plans are subject to change, based upon the final determination, to be made by Governor Cuomo.

The health and safety of the children and adults in our schools is paramount. Health and safety considerations must always come first in every decision made and every action taken by our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools throughout the Diocese of Brooklyn. In planning for school opening, our goal is to establish best practices for ensuring a healthy and safe return to school. This will include but not limited to: health checks; healthy hygiene practices; social distancing; personal protective equipment (PPE) and face coverings; and cleaning and disinfection.

Thank you for your patience as we continue to navigate these extraordinary times. We acknowledge that there are likely to be more questions than answers at this time, and we will continue to communicate with you in the coming weeks.

In preparation for a safe re-opening of our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools, I offer you the following prayer to share with your family:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,

Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Loving Jesus, be with us,
as we prepare to open our
Catholic Academies and Parish Schools in September.

Amen.

Let us all pray for a resolution to and decrease of the COVID-19 virus.

May everyone be healthy, safe, and well.

Sincerely,

Thomas Chadzutko

Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D.
Superintendent ~ Catholic School Support Services

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Parent Resources Updates

3 Quotes about Learning and How to Make the Most of It This Summer

Now more than ever, learning plays an integral role in the development and growth of your child. Your child may be eager to soak up all the sun, play outside, and engage in all the wonders that summer has to offer after being cooped up at home during the COVID-19 lockdown. It’s important, though, to remain safe.

To make this summer a healthy and fun period for your child this year, integrate the element of education that has encouraged your child to persevere and thrive throughout the past few months. The learning aspect will serve as a familiar support for your child as they continue to grow in this time away from the physical classroom and distance learning both.

To give you and your child some inspiration in making this summer a season of learning, below are three quotes about learning that will help your family make the most of the warm weather.

“Oh, the joy of young ideas painted on the mind, in the warm, glowing colors fancy spreads on objects not yet known, when all is new and all is lovely!”Hannah More

This quote emphasizes the beauty of summer warmth. The season fills us with joy and encourages us to learn with faith in mind – that new ideas are colorful and meant to inspire us to continue forward in our pursuits of knowledge of the word of God and the world around us.

“But if any of you want wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men abundantly, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5

Read this bible quote to remind yourself to seek knowledge through God. Without Him, we would be lost and unable to understand the lessons He seeks to teach us. As your child enjoys the summer months, make faith and prayer major elements of your family’s evening routine. Use this time to reflect on what you’ve learned that day through God.

“A man of great memory without learning hath a rock and a spindle and no staff to spin.”George Herbert

This quote reminds us that learning is at the heart of growth. Without it, we continue onward with no real direction and empty knowledge. Don’t aim to memorize. Aim to learn and absorb.

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Coronavirus News and Information Parent Resources Updates

Message from the Superintendent regarding School Reopening Plans and the Re-Opening Task Force

Dear Parents and Guardians of Catholic Academy and Parish School Students,

Catholic Academies and Parish Schools, within the Diocese of Brooklyn are planning to open in September!  The Office of the Superintendent Re-Opening Task Force continues to work tirelessly to ensure that our students, faculty and staff remain healthy and have access to the most current information.  Moreover, the Diocese of Brooklyn Re-Opening Task Force, led by Chief Esposito, has been most impressed with the thoroughness of the Office of the Superintendent’s Task Force’s comprehensive plan for a successful safe opening of our school buildings this Fall.

Principals have been working diligently, planning for a September re-opening.  The New York State Education Department just recently shared the framework for school reopening plans with formal guidance.  This framework will be disseminated later this week and will serve as a roadmap, providing schools with guidelines, expectations and mandates, to safely open our schools this fall.  We also anticipate receiving information shortly from the New York State Department of Health and the Board of Regents.  The Office of the Superintendent Re-Opening Task Force will continue to share all information with our schools.

Governor Cuomo will be informing us of his final decision on school openings, during the week of August 1-7.   In anticipation of schools re-opening, please know there are essential elements included in all the re-opening plans being developed:

  • Our goal for opening schools is a 5-day a week, in-school model, ensuring that as many students, using social distancing, can safely be in our buildings. We are aware that many buildings cannot accommodate their total student population, in a socially distant way, for a full 5 days. Plans are being developed by principals, using alternative scheduling; hybrid learning, combining in-person and remote learning.
  •  We are deeply committed to ensuring that each Catholic Academy and Parish School continue to provide a loving, nurturing Catholic School environment. We will stand firm on continuing academic excellence. Social-emotional learning and mental well-being has been and will continue to be a priority.
  • The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff will continue to be our number one priority, with enhanced cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing protocols, and the implementation of student and faculty wellness checks and symptom screening.
  • We have and will continue to advocate for the many resources our students are entitled to under State and City law, as well as through the local school districts. We will continue to stress that all public-school districts provide a nurse/medical professional to our schools and provide transportation for eligible students. Unfortunately, at this time, we are uncertain if they will be able to fulfill these requirements. We will continue to be persistent in engaging local school districts and lobbying for our students. Further updates on these issues will follow.

We have studied the re-opening plans from around the world, and across our country. We have worked collaboratively with Principals, Pastors and Academy Boards, to envision a re-opening plan that is safe and strong in academics and is Christ-centered.

As we continue to plan for September 2020, we must remember that all plans are based upon information we have presently received, never looking to compromise the health and safety of all.  We will continue to work and plan, accepting changes with patience and common sense.

We thank everyone for their continued support through these unpredictable times and continue to ask for God’s blessings.

Sincerely,

Thomas Chadzutko

Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D.

Superintendent ~ Catholic School Support Services

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Coronavirus News and Information Parent Resources Updates

Act Now to Help Save Catholic Schools!

Please join the USCCB in asking Congress to include additional relief for Catholic schools in the next emergency relief package.

The link to action is below: https://www.votervoice.net/USCCB/Campaigns/75795/Respond

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Coronavirus News and Information Parent Resources Updates

SIX CATHOLIC ACADEMIES IN BROOKLYN AND QUEENS WILL CLOSE DUE TO FINANCIAL STRAIN RESULTING FROM THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

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            The Diocese of Brooklyn Office of the Superintendent – Catholic School Support Services today announced six Catholic academies, located in Brooklyn and Queens, will permanently close, effective August 31, 2020. The devastating effects of the COVID-19 crisis on enrollment and finances, an issue faced by many Catholic schools in the region and across the country, made it impossible for them to reopen for the coming school year.

            The following Catholic academies will not reopen:

  • Queen of the Rosary in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
  • St. Gregory the Great in Crown Heights/Flatbush, Brooklyn
  • Our Lady’s Catholic Academy in South Ozone Park, Queens
  • Our Lady of Grace in Howard Beach, Queens
  • Holy Trinity Catholic Academy in Whitestone, Queens
  • St. Mel’s Catholic Academy in Whitestone, Queens

            Collectively, these schools have seen a decline of enrollment over the last five years, but the registration totals for the upcoming school year are down significantly, largely due to the massive unemployment and loss of business that has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. More than $630,000 in tuition bills for the past school year (2019-2020) remains outstanding at these schools.

            “This is an incredibly sad day for our Catholic community to have to close these schools, but the devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic is insurmountable. The difficult decisions come after the intense analysis of the financial picture of each academy,” said Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools. 

            Every effort will be made to help transition affected students and families to nearby Catholic academies. To help the transition, the Diocese of Brooklyn, through the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust, will provide a one-time $500 financial grant for each child from a closed school enrolling and attending in a new Catholic elementary academy or school in Brooklyn or Queens this fall, as long as they have met all of their financial obligations. For those who meet the financial eligibility, tuition assistance is available through Futures in Education (www.futuresineducation.org). 

            Online Information meetings will begin next week for parents at the academies scheduled to close. Administrators and personnel from neighboring Catholic academies will be available virtually to present their programs and answer any questions parents may have.

            Despite the closures, there is great optimism about the future of Catholic education in Brooklyn and Queens. “Our smaller and caring community of schools has many advantages as witnessed by how quickly we adapted to remote learning this spring. In grades K-8, we were nearly one to one, students to devices with data plans, an incredible feat which allowed for distance learning success in our schools. The learning went on in our schools for six hours a day, so our children knew that even though they were separated, they were not alone. Our devoted teachers and staff supported every child with the tools they needed to continue their education. We will continue to improve on this so we can be ready to handle any challenge this coming fall,” said Dr. Chadzutko.

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Coronavirus News and Information Parent Resources Updates

Transitions, Part 2

A letter of reflection, change, hope and encouragement to the Families of 2020 Graduates by Allison Colombo, Diocesan Counselor

Dear Parents & Guardians, 

It is hard to imagine how quick these years have flown by, isn’t it? Your child is no longer looking through that classroom window, hoping you will stay all day in case they do not make friends on the reading carpet. Maybe your child no longer wants you to write a note to put in their lunch box because “it’s just not cool in High School, Mom.” While this is an exciting time and a milestone for you as a parent and guardian, it is also the closing of one chapter and onto the next. 

These next 4 years in High School is something you are going to go through with your child, but this time it will look a little different. Now, there may be less of you packing lunches, but rather handing out lunch money to buy. You no longer will have to stay up completing that diorama at midnight for Science, but instead find out that you ran out of printer ink for their paper due tomorrow morning at 8 AM. While these changes to how school looks can be scary and worrisome, it can also be so exciting. 

You will be alongside your child as they start to shape themselves into the people they wish to become. Conversations may change from talking about the latest toy they want for Christmas, but rather the newest iPhone so they can keep up with weekend plans with friends. You will stand beside your children as they make new friends, try out for new clubs and sports and may not make the team. You will stand beside your children through some of the happiest and most challenging times.  But remember, remain proud of yourself because through every struggle your child faces, you are right there next to them facing it together. 

As they blossom into young adults, don’t be afraid to talk to them about important topics. While some things may be uncomfortable to bring up, they will thank you in the end for educating them and supporting them through it all. Your involvement in their High School experience is still so crucial to their success. Meet-the-Teacher night may look different but immerse yourself in this new community that will offer you support through educators, Principals and Counselors. 

Congratulations to parents and guardians of the Class of 2020, you made it!

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How to Celebrate the End of the School Year through Faith and Family during COVID-19

Schools across the country are wrapping up this tumultuous school year. For many parents, the challenge of celebrating in this time is unprecedented, and you yourself might be wondering how you can make your child’s special time one to remember in a time of COVID-19 (for all the right reasons). If your child’s school is holding a late-June graduation ceremony or you’d like some ideas on how to make the end of the school year memorable, here are a few ideas from other parents for some summer inspiration.

Family Cookout

With the first days of summer already behind us, —and the entire family—will enjoy a freshly cooked meal in the light of a warm weekend afternoon. Choose the perfect outdoor spot, such as a quiet park pavilion away from large crowds or even your own backyard. With a fire or a grill, cook your child’s summer favorites while you all celebrate the monumental moment together as a family.

Make the cookout themed by decorating with school colors and symbols. Check off all your party essentials: balloons, streamers, colored dinnerware, and a playlist of your child’s favorite music. Before digging in, gather around and say a prayer for success and enlightenment for the young child’s future.

Crowdsource the Family for a “Congrats!” Video Montage

Nothing says “Congratulations to making it to the end of the school year” and “I love you” during a time of social distancing like an end-of-the-year video montage. Surprise your child on this special day with a compilation of videos from family and friends expressing congratulations and their very best wishes.

Reach out to any people that your child may be particularly missing in daily life as he or she continues to adapt to the “new normal,” such as grandparents; aunts, uncles, and cousins; and/or classmates and family friends.

Throw a Virtual Celebration Party

No more than ever, people are starting to embrace technology to better connect us in ways that COVID-19 and social distancing have made impossible. So children have a chance to hear the good wishes and congratulations for themselves, throw a virtual celebration party!

Invite far-away or distance family members and friends to hop on a video call (use video chatting services like Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Skype) and send their hopes and wishes to your child directly.

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End of the Year Parent Letter

Dear Parents and Guardians of Catholic Academy and Parish School Students,

As has been previously shared, our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools have always had a strong relationship with our parents and guardians. This has contributed greatly to the success of our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools. The past three months have been a challenging time for families. Parents have dealt with their own jobs shifting to at-home work status or, even worse, having their jobs being eliminated altogether. Add to that, the stress of having to assist your children with their learning, which presented some additional challenges. I think the hardest part about the COVID-19 crisis has been the uncertain time frame and lack of consistent information from New York City and New York State officials.

Every day, updates and new developments are being shared by Governor Cuomo and Mayor DeBlasio. Looking ahead, we are making plans to re-open our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools in Brooklyn and Queens for the upcoming academic year (2020-2021). Though we cannot determine what the health conditions will look like for the Catholic Academies and Parish Schools, as we approach September, our goal is to return to in-class instruction with all the necessary safety precautions.

A Re-Opening School Task Force has been developed and convening weekly meetings, to develop a strategic plan for the re-opening of Catholic Academies and Parish Schools in September 2020. The implementation of this strategic plan will include a variety of health and safety precautions. It is highly likely that social-distancing requirements will necessitate the need to limit the number of students in a classroom/school building at one time. The summer will allow us time to further our plans and put the necessary measures in place. Our priority is to ensure that our students, teachers, and staff can confidently return to a safe and healthy school building, conducive to teaching, learning, and faith formation.

Our Catholic Academy and Parish School buildings might be empty, but their ministry of Catholic education endures. We continue to journey together though these difficult times. We must continue to act together to ensure that our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools will remain strong and healthy both now, and when we can gather together again in the future.

In preparation for the summer months of July and August, I offer you the following prayer to share with your family:

Father, Creator of all, thank You for summer!
Thank you for the warmth of the sun and the increased daylight.
Thank You for the beauty I see all around me and for the opportunity to be outside and enjoy Your creation.
Thank You for the increased time I have to be with my friends and family, and for the more casual pace of the summer season.
Draw me closer to You this summer.
Teach me how I can pray no matter where I am or what I am doing.
Warm my soul with the awareness of Your presence and light my path with Your Word and Counsel.
As I enjoy Your creation, create in me a pure heart and a hunger and a thirst for You.
Amen.

Wishing you a safe and healthy summer.

We promise to keep you informed as plans evolve. Continue to monitor your Catholic Academy/ Parish School and Diocese of Brooklyn websites (https://catholicschoolsbq.org/).

Sincerely,

Thomas Chadzutko

Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D.
Superintendent ~ Catholic School Support Services

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End of the Year Students Letter

Dear Students in the Catholic Academies and Parish Schools,

Wow… another school year is ending. Can you believe it?

While the past three months of the school year, have been done remotely, your Catholic education has continued. You are to be commended for your hard work and effort. Your achievements and accomplishments have been noted by your principal, teachers and parents.

Remember the start of the school year in September, the excitement of making new friends, the reconnecting with old friends, your new teacher(s) and your renewed enthusiasm to start anew?

This time of year (June 2020) is an excellent time for reflection on the closing school year. I ask you spend some time with your parents reflecting on the questions below:

• What are the two best memories you have of this school year?
• What was your favorite event/excursion/special performance this school year?
• What is the nicest thing someone did for you this school year?
• What was the nicest thing you did for a classmate?
• In what area do you feel you have improved in the most?
• What are 3 new things you’ve learned, that you didn’t know at the start of the school year?
• What’s the best piece of work/project/assignment you’ve done this year?
• What subject have you enjoyed the most? Why?
• What are 6 adjectives you could use to describe the best parts of this school year?
• What have you learned about yourself this school year?
• What are you most proud of this school year?

As you move into the summer months, I ask that you remember to set time aside for daily prayer and reflection.

I offer you this prayer to you as you begin summer 2020:
Take time to claim your strength; they are gifts of God.
Take time to have fun; it’s God’s way of teaching you your strengths.
Take time to grow yourself; only you can grow you.
Take time to trust yourself; God trusts you.
Take time to be self-reliant; it is better than being dependent.
Take time to share with others; they will bless you, and you will bless them.
Take time to have hope, you are a child of God

Best wishes for an enjoyable and safe summer!

Continued prayers!

Thomas Chadzutko
Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D.
Superintendent ~ Catholic School Support Services

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End of the Year Teacher Letter

Dear Catholic Academy and Parish School Teachers,

The past three months have taught us that we are at our best when we work together toward a common goal. For our teachers, your common goal was to educate your children in a community of faith. I have been inspired by your strength and resilience throughout this crisis. Handed a Herculean task, you have risen to meet this challenge with dedication, talent, and love for your students that is nothing short of heroic.

So, dear teachers, as you move closer to the final days of the 2019-2020 school year, please do for yourselves, as you did each day for each child in your class; acknowledge your gifts and talents, your kindness and warmth, your hard work and dedication. Remember the faces of the students who told you through their computer screen how much they missed you, the families who thanked you for all you had done for their child, the kids who gave you pause to smile and even laugh, during these past three months.

I end this letter with my sincere thanks and appreciation for your commitment to Catholic education, as you delivered a Christ-centered instructional program, providing each child with the individual attention and support they need to reach their full potential.

Pope Francis frequently speaks of the importance of our teachers in promoting the faith. I would like to close with a special quote from our Holy Father: Educating isn’t a profession but an attitude, a way of being. In order to educate you must go out of yourselves and amidst the young, accompanying them in stages of their growth, standing beside them…

Christ, Teacher and Lord,
Bless all in this school as we seek to end our year
with the grace You so generously provide.
We give thanks for the students and the faculty, the administrators,
and all who have contributed to this year of nurturing and growth.
We affirm all the positive moments:
Of insight, of the excitement of learning,
Of accomplishment, of creativity,
Of laughter, of a sense of community.
We recognize the times of struggle, of difficult work,
of misunderstanding,
Even of failure…
We give these to You for transformation,
So they can become seeds that will find fertile soil.
As we leave for the summer,
May we take with us the knowledge
that You will keep us all in Your embrace
so we may rest and be restored,
And so we can continue in the ongoing discovery of Your Love.
Amen.

With respect and appreciation for all you do.

Continued prayers and blessings for you!

Sincerely,

Thomas Chadzutko

Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D.
Superintendent ~ Catholic School Support Services