Dear Catholic Elementary School Parents:
As we prepare ourselves for the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, I am writing to you today about offering special support to our dedicated teachers, principals, aides, and staff. During this pandemic, our principals and teachers have been working harder than ever before to be there for your students, whether in class or at home. We are all proud of the way that they have gone above and beyond for their students and our Church.
Their efforts have been tireless, but these past weeks have been particularly challenging. Though our on-campus safety record remains strong, many of our educators have had to quarantine for a variety of reasons, which has left us stretched very thin. It’s not easy to find substitute teachers right now, and many of our principals are covering classes personally to make sure that we can keep our campuses open, and though it does not affect our ability to keep our campuses open, we have all needed extra time to prepare for the impending stay-at-home order.
Taking all these interests into consideration, here is our plan:
- Please be extra kind to your school’s educators. Your gratitude goes a long way in making it all feel worthwhile.
- To give our teachers more time to prepare for the final week of instruction before Christmas break, Friday, December 11 will be a minimum day. Extension programs will remain open that afternoon for students who need an on-campus option.
- In order for our teachers to not have to lesson-plan during their much-needed Christmas break, we will give our teachers an extra prep day on Monday, January 4, and begin with actual instruction on Tuesday, January 5th.
- In consultation with Bishop Soto and the school boards, we have decided to extend the Easter break for all schools to two weeks, from Monday, March 29, to Friday, April 9. Some schools may offer extension programs from March 29 to 31.
In regards to community safety, I am happy to share that we have completed the second week of antigen testing of all employees and 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students at five pilot schools, and for the second week in a row, no one tested positive. When we created the post-Thanksgiving questionnaire asking families who had traveled out of state or participated in large gatherings to remain in distance mode, we did so because we hoped that it would bring down the number of potential cases on campus. For your reference, I am attaching the questionnaire to this letter; we are working on a version to send via SchoolSpeak.
Our testing data shows that the steps we took after Thanksgiving were effective. As such, we will be asking the same questions of all families after our return from Christmas break; please see the questionnaire for details on when your student may return to campus. To all of our families who have followed our policies, thank you for your sacrifice; you have contributed significantly to a lower rate of Covid-19 in our communities. We are also working to expand our antigen testing program after the break; I will share more information regarding testing in a future letter.
Thank you for choosing Catholic education, and may you enjoy a blessed Advent.
Superintendent and Executive Director of Schools
The Diocese of Sacramento