By Katherine Long | Editor

All 22 of the Diocese of Syracuse’s Catholic schools will offer five-day, in-person instruction for all students this fall.

Superintendent William Crist confirmed the plans, which were proposed last month, in a letter issued Aug. 25 to Catholic school parents, guardians, and community members.

“I am very happy to share that students who attend any of our Catholic schools in the Diocese of Syracuse will have the opportunity to engage in programs that provide in-person learning, five days a week, while still following state and federal social distancing guidelines,” Crist wrote. “Being able to come together to provide supportive environments for learning is our priority at each of our Catholic schools. Each school has prepared a 2020-2021 School Reopening Plan that outlines the processes and strategies in place to support a safe and high quality learning environment to which our students, faculties and staff have become accustomed.”

Schools will also provide entirely remote instruction for students who choose not to return to in-person instruction, and each school will set guidelines for how students may re-enter in-person instruction, according to Crist.

Each school developed individual plans, tailored to the needs of each community. All plans incorporate guidance from the New York State Department of Health, the New York State Education Department, the New York State Catholic Conference, and the diocesan Catholic Schools Office. Reopening plans were submitted to the New York State Department of Health and the State Education Department.

Surveys sent to Catholic school families indicated 68 to 98% of parents wanted their children to return to in-person instruction, Crist said in an interview with Syracuse Catholic Television.

Returning to in-person instruction is possible because of “the very size of our schools and the communities that make them up,” he told the Sun last month. About 4,300 students, from pre-K 3 to grade 12, are currently enrolled across 18 elementary schools and four junior/senior high schools, and the average class size is 15 students, according to Crist. Some of the schools are starting to see enrollment increases as families explore options for education in the fall, he noted.

The school year will officially begin Sept. 3 with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Douglas J. Lucia at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Schools will begin classes the following week.

“In these last few weeks before the start of the 2020-2021 school year, we will continue to prayerfully and deliberately implement the plans outlined in these documents,” Crist wrote in his letter. “We will be moving furniture, posting signs, training staff, preparing lessons, cleaning surfaces, and communicating with our families and other stakeholders about the new procedures that will be in place as we commence this unique and unprecedented school year.”

Read the reopening plans for each school via the links below:

High schools

Elementary schools

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