Washington D.C., Jan 27, 2021 / 08:35 am
Catholic schools around the United States adjusted to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Halfway through the school year, one diocese explained to CNA how it has remained open for in-person learning while local public schools maintain distance learning.
“Our schools have not been sources of community transmission,” Dr. Joseph Vorbach, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Arlington, told CNA on Tuesday. Vorbach said that of the nearly 17,000 students enrolled in the diocese’s 41 schools, fewer than 200 students have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
More importantly, Vorbach told CNA that to his knowledge, no student or teacher for the Diocese of Arlington has been hospitalized from the virus.
Vorbach credited the precautions taken by the diocese’s 37 elementary schools and four high schools for keeping their students and staff largely safe from the spread of the virus.
These measures include requiring students and staff to wear masks, instituting hallway traffic patterns, repurposing large rooms like the gym and cafeteria as classrooms to facilitate social distancing, and keeping groups of students separate from other groups.
All four of the high schools have implemented some sort of hybrid model of learning, where different cohorts of students alternate between in-person and virtual education each week. Meanwhile, around two-thirds of the diocesan elementary schools are meeting in person every day and the remaining third use a hybrid model.
And while the hybrid model is not ideal--Vorbach noted that “half the freshmen class hasn't met the other half of the freshman class, which is strange”--it serves a purpose of “getting them [students] back in the building.”
“And, it facilitates in-person instruction, which makes the home (learning) time stronger,” he said.