NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Private Catholic Schools across Virginia will begin the 2020-2021 academic year with in-person instruction, including those in Hampton Roads.
But when students roll up to Christ the King Catholic School in Norfolk on Tuesday, August 25 the building and the routine will look a lot different than in years past. First, they’ll have to get a temperature check at the door and the person dropping them off will wait outside for a thumbs up.
“We hope and pray that everybody stays healthy, but especially our students here,” Principal Kim Callahan told 10 On Your Side.
Callahan pointed out the many changes, including colorful carpet squares that show little ones how to social distance, signs hung to remind students how to wear their masks and not to share them.
Desks are spread out in classrooms with a few in hallways to help keep students separated. The cafeteria, she said, will stay closed. “Lunch will be brought from home or we have a company coming in that’s going to do individually packed meals for every student.”
Children will eat in their classrooms or at picnic tables outside.
The playground will be used one class at a time and staff will sanitize their classroom while the children are outside. “So they get fresh air, and the classroom gets fresh air,” Callahan said.
Money from The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was used to buy cleaning supplies such as Clorox wipes, and to help turn old water fountains into touch-less water bottle filling stations.
They are also prepared to move to virtual learning.
“I’m excited that everybody is going to have electronic devices so that they can work from home if need be, but they’re going to use those in class as well,” explained Callahan.
One teacher is designated to coordinate all online learning should a student or their family need to quarantine.
While 10 On Your Side has reported on many teachers in the community protesting, concerned about returning to classrooms too soon, Callahan told WAVY, “Our teachers are excited to get back.”
The principal said they don’t face many of the obstacles public school face, such as how to social distance on a bus. That allows them and other private schools to open with optimism, albeit with caution. “We’re ready! So all we need are students.”
Many private schools have been inundated with calls from families trying to enroll, now that most public schools are going back virtually. Christ the King enrolled more than two dozen new families, but is now at its limit for the sake of safe social distancing.
More information on the reopening of diocesan Catholic schools is available at this link: https://richmonddiocese.org/reopening-ourschools.
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