One school did temporarily stop in-person learning before Christmas, due to a virus outbreak.
"Out of an abundance of caution coming out of the holiday, they remained in e-learning," Vorbach said. "But they're back in business again with their in-person models."
Over time, schools have improved at handling cases of the virus, he said.
"Each time a school went through its first instance of having a teacher or a student test positive, there was that nervousness and anxiety about exactly how to handle it," he said. But as the months went on, Vorbach said the schools "started to develop a lot of great collaborative sharing going on among those who had gone through it."
"And honestly, the public health folks in all the counties have been really great," he said. "The nurses in our schools have been great."
Meanwhile, in Arlington Public Schools, Alexandria City Public Schools and Fairfax County Public Schools--all of which are in the territory of the Arlington Diocese--in-person learning of any form is not occurring for the vast majority of students. Many kindergarteners have yet to go to a classroom.
Dr. Francisco Duran, superintendent of Arlington Public Schools, declined to give a date as to when classrooms and schools would re-open and said "no decisions have been made."
"My commitment to the health and safety of students and staff remains and I will not announce dates until we are ready and confident in mitigation and operational readiness for larger groups of our staff and students," said Duran in a statement released Jan. 23.
Vorbach admitted that, as the local public schools were not re-opening back in September and August, there was a "level of uncertainty" associated with the diocesan schools opening for in-person learning.
"I think you'd have to say [things went] better than expected," he said. Enrollment has remained stable, with waiting lists at some schools, and while there has been learning loss associated with the pandemic, overall "the loss is less in Catholic schools than the larger dataset," said Vorbach.
Students at Diocese of Arlington schools recently took standardized tests, he noted, which will help schools strategize how best to respond to students falling behind in learning.
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But most of all, Vorbach is quick to credit the "effort of the principals and teachers," plus other school staff, "who worked so hard to make this possible."
"It's taken a lot," he said. "I salute the teachers and the principals who have done so much to make it work, because they believe in the value of having them there."