When schools shut down last March, many educators were left wondering how they could possibly adapt to the pandemic’s new normal. But the Catholic Archdiocese of New York lost no time, immediately setting to work designing reopening plans for its more than 150 New York schools, in consultation with a team of architects, healthcare consultants, school leaders, and staff.

According to Kingston Catholic School (KCS) Principal Jill Albert, the large-scale, proactive effort played a vital role in allowing the school to remain open five days a week since last fall. “The Archdiocese sent architects to walk the building with the state guidelines in hand and lay out for us exactly how we could achieve safe distance. Then we trained our faculty and staff in our new plans and protocols, and added additional staff to support the cleaning of high-touch points and a new deep cleaning every day,” Albert says. “Hand sanitizer is everywhere now.”

At a time when so few schools are able to make in-person learning work for their communities, KCS has been able to maintain continuity of daily instruction, including important enrichment programs like art, music, and technology. And the opportunity to be back each day has helped KCS students embrace the changes they’ve had to make to their routines with the new policies and procedures. “We were expecting pushback from the older kids and that it would be really hard on the littlest, but everyone just got it from the get-go,” says Albert.

Pictured at right: Temperature checks on the first day of school at Kingston Catholic School.

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