As students in the Archdiocese of Louisville return to the classroom amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Catholic Schools has released its safety guidelines including those for wearing masks.
Under the Archdiocese of Louisville Elementary Catholic Schools Re-entry Plan for 2021-2022, issued Aug. 6, all students in kindergarten through eighth-grade and members of the staff are required to wear a mask indoors.
Masks do not need to be worn outdoors unless there is “sustained close contact with unvaccinated individuals,” according to the re-entry plan. Gov. Andy Beshear has since issued a statewide mask mandate for schools.
All students and bus drivers are required to wear a mask while traveling on school buses in compliance with President Biden’s executive order.
Each high school has prepared its own plan to return to the classroom.
Dr. Mary Beth Bowling, superintendent of Catholic Schools, said her office revised the original re-entry plan out of an “abundance of caution” following information from city and state health officials that cases of COVID-19 are on the rise.
Bowling said her office is relying on information from the Centers for Disease and Control, the Kentucky Department of Public Health and the Louisville Metro Department of Health and Wellness, to make decisions and provide guidance for Catholic schools.
Bowling said she’s also relied on the support of educators across the archdiocese.
“I have taken many opportunities this summer to say thank you to our teachers and principals for their leadership last year. I saw it in action under the most trying circumstances. We are in this together and with the support of all parties will continue to do what is best for our students,” said Bowling.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz said he’s grateful for the leadership of the archdiocese’s educators.
“I am proud of the care that our schools have taken to protect students and staff while offering in-person instruction,” he said. “Please join me in thanking our archdiocesan Office of Catholic Schools, our pastors and principals and all the faculty and staff who have shown such courage and leadership for our children and youth.”
The Office of Catholic Schools is also recommending the following guidelines for a safe return to the classroom for the 2021-2022 school year:
- Distancing — Physical distancing of at least three feet is recommended in classrooms where everyone isn’t fully vaccinated.
- Ventilation — Improve building ventilation to the greatest extent possible to increase circulation of outdoor air and increase delivery of clean air. The use of outdoor spaces is recommended when possible.
- Hygiene — Educators will teach and reinforce handwashing with soap and water for 20 seconds or the use of hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Isolation — Anyone experiencing symptoms, including a fever, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat, cough, muscle and body aches or new loss of taste and smell will be isolated until they are able to leave the school building. School leaders will also encourage individuals experiencing those symptoms to see their health care provider and ensure those who test positive follow health guidelines for isolation.
- Quarantine and contact tracing — Catholic schools will continue to work with the local health department to facilitate case investigation and contact tracing to identify individuals who have had close contact with a person diagnosed with
- Cleaning and disinfection — Buildings should be cleaned once a day, but it is recommended that high-touch areas be cleaned more frequently.
The office also recommends that activities with individuals who are not fully vaccinated be limited, as well as limiting the number of non-essential visitors and volunteers.
Archdiocese of Louisville’s high schools should be contacted individually for more information about their re-entry plans.