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Archdiocese of Baltimore Catholic schools announce detailed plan for students’ return

The Baltimore Archdiocese is implementing a number of measures with safety of students in mind when they open up for in-school education, according to a report released Friday.
The Baltimore Archdiocese is implementing a number of measures with safety of students in mind when they open up for in-school education, according to a report released Friday. (Courtesy Archdiocese of Baltimore)

The Archdiocese of Baltimore Catholic schools announced on Friday a detailed plan for students’ eventual return to campuses this fall.

Last week, the Archdiocese released a draft plan including that it would work to have in-person classes after the coronavirus pandemic thrust classes statewide online in the spring. Friday’s announcement included procedural details beyond simply that the schools will welcome faculty and staff Aug. 24 and students on Aug. 31 for five-days-a-week instruction, with families able to elect to have their children learn remotely.

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“Our number one priority is the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff,” Chancellor of Education James B. Sellinger said in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming our students back to the classroom, whether they be in person or participating virtually.”

Pre-schoolers and kindergarteners will get their temperatures tested upon arriving at school, while for students in first grade through high school, a parent or guardian must take each student’s temperature before he or she arrives at school. If the temperature is above 100 degrees, the student must stay home, the plan says. Faculty and students will have their temperatures checked again before entering school facilities.

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The Baltimore Archdiocese is implementing a number of measures with safety of students in mind when they open up for in-school education, according to a report released Friday.
The Baltimore Archdiocese is implementing a number of measures with safety of students in mind when they open up for in-school education, according to a report released Friday. (Courtesy Archdiocese of Baltimore)

Student drop-off and pick-up times will be staggered. Students will go directly to their classroom and not congregate once they’re dropped off, according to the plan.

Anyone at least 3 years old must wear a face covering indoors and outdoors when social distancing isn’t possible, with each school having details on exceptions such as meals. If needed, disposable masks will be provided, with face shields or another alternative provided if a verifiable medical condition requires something other than a cloth face covering to be worn. Schools will have an abundance of hand sanitizer available, with hand washing required before and after meals.

With the possibility a student, faculty or staff members begins showing signs of COVID-19, schools must establish a designated area where they can isolate.

Throughout the schools, there will be signs broadcasting the mask policy and proper hand washing practices. Hallways will have designated entry and exit paths, with directional signs on floors to promote social distancing.

Students and desks will be spaced out in classrooms, with the latter all required to face the same direction. Non-essential items such as filing cabinets and bookcases have been removed from rooms to increase space. In cases where students can’t properly social distance, barriers such as plastic screens will divide them. Gathering spaces such as dining halls or student lounges will be closed. The use of lockers will also be avoided, and sharing of supplies isn’t allowed.

Recess will still be part of daily schedules, with regular cleaning and proper spacing recommended. If those prove to not be possible, alternatives will be found. Extracurricular activities will be limited to only those where social distancing can happen.

The Archdiocese’s plan recommends that students bring their own lunches, which aren’t allowed to be refrigerated or include foods that need to be microwaved or have peanuts. For students who don’t bring their own lunch, an online ordering system for individual meals will be implemented. Students will likely have their meals at their classroom desks.

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