MASKS, TEM­PER­A­TURE CHECKS PART OF ARCH­DIO­CESE’S BACK-TO-SCHOOL PLAN

Along with tem­per­a­ture checks and masks stu­dents will stay with same group all day

Chicago Sun-Times - - CHICAGO SUN TIMES - BY STE­FANO ES­POS­ITO,

All chil­dren over the age of 2 will be re­quired to wear face masks while in­doors and stu­dents will have their tem­per­a­tures taken as they ar­rive at school, ac­cord­ing to the Arch­dio­cese of Chicago’s just-re­leased plan to re­open school in the fall.

“We live in ex­tra­or­di­nary times, and it is our in­tent to re­open our school build­ings safely to all fam­i­lies this fall,” Jim Rigg, su­per­in­ten­dent of the Arch­dio­cese of Chicago Catholic Schools, said in a state­ment Fri­day.

“Such a re­open­ing has re­quired care­ful and dili­gent plan­ning on the part of our school em­ploy­ees, along with con­sul­ta­tion from med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als, state and lo­cal of­fi­cials, ed­u­ca­tors, par­ents, and oth­ers. We believe that in-per­son in­struc­tion is the best way to ben­e­fit our stu­dents and are com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing that in­struc­tion in a safe man­ner.”

The arch­dio­cese’s an­nounce­ment comes as Chicago Pub­lic Schools is still de­vel­op­ing guide­lines for a planned fall re­open­ing. The pro­posed guide­lines are ex­pected to be re­leased in the com­ing weeks for in­put from par­ents, teach­ers and stu­dents, a district spokes­woman said this week. Also this week, the Chicago Teach­ers Union said in a sur­vey of its mem­bers, about 40% of the 4,800 teach­ers who re­sponded be­lieved in-class­room in­struc­tion should not re­sume un­til a COVID-19 vac­cine is widely avail­able.

Mean­while, Arch­dio­cese stu­dents will be as­signed to a “co­hort” and will be re­quired to stay with the same group of stu­dents all day, ac­cord­ing to the arch­dio­cese’s plan.

The face mask re­quire­ment also ap­plies to school em­ploy­ees, ac­cord­ing to the arch­dio­cese. Masks may be re­moved dur­ing lunch and re­cess, but only if stu­dents are so­cial dis­tanc­ing. Par­ents will also be asked to give their chil­dren daily tem­per­a­ture checks.

Par­ents who don’t want to send their chil­dren back to school have the op­tion for on­line learn­ing, the arch­dio­cese said. The on­line learn­ing op­tion will be dis­trictwide, but in­di­vid­ual schools will be al­lowed to cre­ate their own pro­grams with the arch­dio­cese’s ap­proval.

“We have worked hard to pro­vide a re­open­ing plan that rec­og­nizes the great ben­e­fits of in-school in­struc­tion and still ex­presses our com­mit­ment to the preser­va­tion of hu­man life,” Car­di­nal Blase Cupich said in a state­ment. “Even in the best of times, our schools help en­sure chil­dren have good nu­tri­tion and a safe place to learn. It is even more im­por­tant that fam­i­lies have ac­cess to th­ese ben­e­fits dur­ing the pan­demic.”

The arch­dio­cese serves about 70,000 stu­dents in 199 schools in Cook and Lake coun­ties.

SUN-TIMES FILES

Car­di­nal Blase Cupich speaks to stu­dents in Jan­uary at St. Genevieve Catholic School.

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