As parents, teachers and school administrators across the tri-state (and the nation) grapple with how to reopen schools safely, the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn announced Tuesday that their schools will reopen for in-person classes full time, five days a week.
That means dozens of school buildings throughout the five boroughs and New York will be teeming with students and teachers in less than three weeks.
"Ninety-five percent of our schools are planning a 100 percent in-person instruction starting in September," said Joan McMaster, the associate superintendent for the Diocese. "The remaining will be the five percent, which will be doing a hybrid program."
Parents were given a choice if they'd like to enroll their children remotely, and roughly 500 parents opted for that – about three percent of the total student population.
"For those parents who wish to keep their children home still, they're not completely comfortable with everything that is going on, we have created the St. Thomas Aquinas distance learning Catholic program. That is a complete remote program," said McMaster.
The Brooklyn Diocese, which operates 66 Catholic schools in Brooklyn and Queens, says all children and staff will fill out health forms each day and undergo temperature checks. They’ll also wear masks and practice social distancing.
Catholic school teachers do not belong to a union, but the diocese says they are working with teachers to make sure they feel safe, while understanding some may chose not to come back.
"We are fully aware that there will be faculty and staff who have qualifying reasons as to why they cannot return, and those reasons could be health and safety, childcare," McMaster said.
In a statement to NBC New York, the Archdiocese of New York — which runs schools in the other three boroughs as well as Westchester County and throughout the Hudson Valley — also said that they will have students, teachers and staff return full-time in September.
"Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of New York will have teachers and students in our buildings 5 days a week for in-person instruction as well providing a hybrid synchronized learning program in some of our schools," said T.J. McCormack