SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – The Diocese of Sioux City release their plans for returning to school this fall.
Diocese of Sioux City Catholic schools Superintendent Patty Lansink said the diocesan schools will be taking a unified approach to help keep students, teachers and staff safe as they start the new year regular full-time schedules in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“Each of our schools has a plan for educating onsite, for educating online – should the need arise – and a hybrid model, but the hybrid for most includes onsite instruction and providing online options for those who want or need it for underlying health conditions,” she said.
The Office of Education recently released guidelines to diocesan Catholic school administrators.
Some of the main points in the diocesan guidelines include:
- Health screening at home and staying home if ill.
- Highly recommending face coverings for arrival, dismissal, passing periods and other times when adequate social distancing is not possible.
- Frequent handwashing during school day and enhanced sanitizing protocols for buildings.
- Physical distancing throughout classrooms and school buildings.
- Limiting visitors and volunteers in school buildings.
- Cohorts will be used – keeping groups of students together and not mixing with other students.
Lansink noted many educators had hoped for some general guidelines from the state but since they received none they “had more work to do on our own – in collaboration with local health professionals and school teams – to determine best safety practices for our staff and students.”
Lansick said the guidelines were developed with input from public health officials, administrators and the diocesan COVID task force.
Most Catholic schools are starting class the week of Aug. 24.
Measures to keep children and staff safe will expand beyond the efforts of school officials.
“We are relying on everyone to do their part to keep our staff and students safe so folks must keep their children home if they are not feeling well,” Lansink stressed.
Limiting visitors and volunteers flows out the concept of limiting outside exposure as much as possible. This will also mean changes in how deliveries are made to the buildings and other adjustments.
With the use of student cohorts, Lansik explained teachers will move to classrooms for art, music and similar classes rather than having groups of students move throughout buildings.
“Schools are determining what personal protective equipment they need for staff and students and how best to ensure physical distancing in their classrooms and school buildings,” noted Lansink.
The superintendent said there really aren’t enough words to describe the challenges parents, students, staff and administrators have had over these last few months.
“There are many more to come, but we are excited to welcome students back and are committed to providing as safe an environment as possible for our staff and students,” she said.
There are 23 Catholic schools in the Diocese of Sioux City – seven high schools, nine parish-based elementary schools and seven system-based schools. In the 2019-20 academic year, 5,946 students of Catholic and non-Catholic faith backgrounds were enrolled in the diocesan schools. Students of various cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds attend the Catholic schools in the Diocese of Sioux City.