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AOD Return to School Fall 2020

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“Do not fear, for I am with you.” (Isaiah 41:10)

June 9, 2020

Dear Mr. Kijewski and Father Pullis,

Our Catholic faith teaches us not to live in fear. While it is prudent and necessary to make proactive decisions with regard to health and safety of our schools’ students, faculty, and staff, such decisions must include input from all constituents, and many of us are anxious and concerned that our voices have not yet been solicited or heard. We are hearing about several possible scenarios for what the 2020-2021 school year might entail for schools in the Archdiocese, and it is our understanding that some of these scenarios are very similar to those being discussed by several of the public school districts. With at least some of these scenarios, we foresee possible negative impact, and we would be remiss not to share our concern.

Our schools did an incredible job with distance learning, and responded with aplomb to very sudden and significant measures imposed upon them. This stated, it is clear to us that our children did not learn the same quantity or quality of content that they would have in a normal school setting. We as parents are making sacrifices to invest in the education of our children and we want them to be in school every day, absorbing every morsel of goodness and knowledge to which they’re entitled. We understand that some scenarios being discussed include decreased time in the classroom for students. While we certainly respect that some may not be comfortable with in-person learning, we wish to go on record clearly stating that our expectation as payers of tuition is that our students have the option to be physically in class for as much time as is required for the best possible learning environment. To do anything less would too greatly compromise our mission as parents and educators. We suggest that those who are not comfortable with this might opt to have their students “zoom in” from home.

Another concern we share is the impact to the psyche of our children should aspects of certain scenarios be thrust upon them. Surely, the first priority must be the health and safety of our children and our dedicated teachers and administrators. Included in this, let us not forget, is their mental health. We would do well to recall that students in the elementary and junior ages will respond to stresses and mental burdens thrust upon them in a way that can greatly affect the formation of their very person. We ask that you please consider that some of the approaches being considered have the potential to instill much fear and anxiety in our children – even distrust and alienation of one another. Our class sizes, for example, are already on the smaller side, and reducing them further in the hopes of possibly reducing the spread of the virus – which may not be necessary at the time the school year begins – may have tangible negative impacts to our children . We request that as much of the learning style and environment our children are used to receiving remain intact as possible. Some of the elements which we have heard are under consideration are requiring the children to wear masks, forcing a hybrid schedule upon families, depriving our children of play together at recess, and installing plexiglass shields around desks.

We ask, with sincerity of heart and fervent hope that rational minds will prevail, such that we do not choose extraordinary action this fall – that we do not succumb to social pressure and confuse prudent precaution with irrational fear – and instead provide our students the best possible chance at a normal school year designed to nurture body, mind, and spirit.

In Him,

Concerned Parents of the AOD

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

2 Timothy 1:7

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