The Diocese of Dallas is moving forward with plans to reopen Catholic schools this fall while adhering to social distancing and health guidelines, Superintendent Matt Vereecke said in a statement released July 21.
According to the statement, the leaders of diocesan schools have been meeting regularly with the Diocese of Dallas administration and outside medical experts throughout the State of Texas. Administrators have been sharing, revising and testing various plans and protocols that are necessary to keep students, faculty and staff safe.
In making the announcement, Vereecke said public schools face different issues than the 33 Catholic schools that operate in the nine counties that make up the Diocese.
“Diocesan schools have smaller classes, different facilities and more flexibility to adapt to the current health concerns,” Vereecke said. “We have come to the conclusion that we can absolutely open our schools in person, and that we can keep our teachers, students and staff safe. Human life is sacred, and as Catholics we have a responsibility to protect it from conception to natural death, and we firmly believe these protocols will do so.”
In addition, Vereecke said he is aware that the decision to open and the protocols will be viewed by some as an ideological or political statement.
“That is not the case,” he said. “Our decisions have been made with only three objectives in mind: the health, safety and faith of our students, teachers and staff.”
Parents will receive a detailed reopening plan from schools soon. The following protocols are consistent across all diocesan schools:
- All diocesan elementary schools that are not in Dallas County can begin in-person instruction as early as August 19th.
- All diocesan elementary schools in Dallas County can begin in-person instruction as early as September 2nd.
- Regardless of start date, there will be a two-week phase in to fulltime instruction so that students and parents can be trained on the school safety and health protocols.
- All individuals will be required to wear face coverings when inside school buildings. There can be and will be no exceptions to this policy.
- There will be no fall sports for the grade schools.
- All individuals will submit to health screenings every day; mandatory sick leave will be enforced and details will be shared by the school principal when and if someone tests positive.
- Parents may opt for remote learning if the protocols do not fit the needs of the student or family.
“We will be constantly reviewing these procedures and monitoring our schools,” Vereecke said. “We are thankful for the partnership, trust and patience of parents, and look forward to seeing students in the fall.”