Wednesday, August 19, 2020

“70,000 students in Catholic schools will be the largest experiment with in-person learning in the area… ‘[Catholic schools are] playing with our lives and they are pretending that all these guidelines are in place.’”

“…[M[any suburban public schools are starting this week, though several back-peddled on reopening plans and have since decided to start at least the first few weeks of school remotely. This leaves the Catholic school system the area’s biggest experiment with in-person learning.

“Many teachers are grappling with the fear of catching the coronavirus. But many working parents are thrilled to send their children back. Some even transferred their children to Catholic schools because they wanted in-person learning…

“Archdiocese of Chicago school officials have assured parents and teachers that they will follow strict health and safety protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health officials. This involves social distancing, masks at all times, hand sanitizers and coordinated strategies for students to enter and exit school buildings…

“The Archdiocese of Chicago has a lot of incentive to open up their schools. For years, many Catholic schools have closed due to enrollment declines. The COVID-19 crisis is exacerbating the financial challenges. Many families who are paying full tuition rates are expecting in-person learning, this includes new parents who see Catholic schools as an option as opposed to public schools that are starting with remote learning only.

“But it is also facing criticism from teachers. ’The teachers are very afraid of catching COVID, getting COVID and bringing home, they are terrified,’ said Elaine Sage, a reading and writing part-time teacher at St. Francis Xavier School in Wilmette.

“Over the summer, Catholic school officials said they surveyed parents and teachers before deciding to have in-person learning. They also conducted listening sessions with parents and students throughout the summer.

“Sage said she was never asked to fill out a survey. She and 32 other teachers at St. Francis Xavier sent a letter in recent weeks to Archdiocese school officials asking for more details about their in-person reopening strategy.

“Their questions range from where are safe teacher lunchroom areas to whether class sizes could be reduced. Sage and other teachers argue some classrooms are too small for students to keep the six feet distance recommended by experts. ‘The archdiocese is misleading parents and teachers,’ said Marie, a teacher at a suburban school who asked not to use her last name out of fear of losing her job. ‘They are playing with our lives and they are pretending that all these guidelines are in place.’

“Marie said many teachers have chronic illnesses or have family members with underlying health conditions and should not be forced to work in small spaces where children cannot be six feet apart.

“Archdiocese officials have defended their strategy, saying their plan specifies that children should be at least three feet apart when in their class and more than six feet away when outside of their class or when masks are removed.

“Rigg said he will try to accommodate teachers who have legitimate medical issues or anxiety. But he added: ‘We still need teachers to teach in our classroom.’

“During the summer, Rigg also promised teachers and parents that schools will be cleaned, but teachers like Sage worry not all Catholic schools have the same resources. ‘About the poor areas in the city, what’s going to happen to them, without the personal, protective equipment they need and the resources,’ Sage said.

“Several Catholic schools applied individually for the federal Paycheck Protection Plan loans designed to help small businesses deal with the financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. Each applied for a different amount based on the requirements, according to the archdioceses.

“Teachers are not the only one’s concern, their family members are too. ‘It’s very nerve racking,’ said Lauren, whose mom is a teacher at a suburban Catholic school. Lauren, who recently lost her aunt to COVID-19, asked not to use her family last name. ‘It’s disturbing to hear about the way the information is being presented to families about what the conditions are going to be like and then to hear first-hand what they are actually like. It feels like two different stories,’ she said” (Catholic Schools Open in The Chicago Area Amid Teacher Concerns About COVID-19, Aug. 17, 2020, WBEZ).


  1. Teachers are afraid of contracting the coronavirus and infecting their family and others. They are afraid of their students contracting the coronavirus and infecting their families.

    They are afraid that frequent hand-washing is impossible for students to do throughout the entire day. They are afraid there is not enough space in the classroom for proper social distancing. They are afraid social distancing and wearing cloth masks for hours is impossible, especially for children. They are afraid of students eating lunches without masks.

    They are afraid of airborne transmission of the coronavirus that thrives indoors, especially in closed spaces. They are afraid the windows cannot be opened or will not be opened in inclement weather. They are afraid their school's ventilation system is antiquated or poor (where "air is not properly filtered, diluted and exchanged"); that the HVAC system has not been upgraded and will easily spread the coronavirus. They are afraid that every surface in their school will not be sanitized each day.

    They are afraid their school will have insufficient Personal Protective Equipment to keep everyone healthy and safe, such as portable HEPA air purifiers for each room, N-95 masks, Nitrile gloves, face shields, Clorox wipes, hand sanitizers...

    They are afraid they will not be able to tell the difference between the symptoms of the coronavirus and the flu, or the difference between the coronavirus and the common cold, or the difference between the coronavirus and common allergies. They are afraid of asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus.

    They are afraid their school cannot guarantee everyone’s health and safety through reliable and consistent testing and contact tracing. They are afraid there are not enough nurses and custodians for each school. They are afraid the Archdiocese lacks the expertise to determine health and safety measures for students, teachers and staff.

  2. March 13, 2020: How many coronavirus cases were there on this date? How many deaths were there on this date when "The Archdiocese of Chicago announced the closure of all Catholic schools due to the threat of coronavirus. [?]

    "In addition to closing schools, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich announced the suspension of Mass starting Saturday evening. Churches will remain open for private prayer, and churches capable of broadcasting their Masses on television or online are encouraged to do so."

    August 19, 2020: How many coronavirus cases are there on this date? How many deaths are there on this date?

    Does any one see the absurdity and danger in opening up in-person schools right now?

  3. According to

    USA Coronavirus Cases: 5,656,744
    USA Coronavirus Deaths: 175,105