Kijewski: Distance learning continues, but schools can shorten year ‘if and when called for’

Academy of the Sacred Heart third-grade student Santino Visocchi works with his classmates on a shared Google Doc at his in-home school station. Kevin Kijewski, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Detroit, said the state’s decision to end the academic year will not impact Catholic schools’ remote learning plans. (Courtesy of the Academy of the Sacred Heart)

State’s decision to end face-to-face classes for public schools won’t impact Catholic schools’ distance learning plans, superintendent says

DETROIT — In response to an executive order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday canceling in-person classes for Michigan public schools until the end of the academic year, Archdiocese of Detroit superintendent of schools Kevin Kijewski said the archdiocese’s 87 Catholic schools will continue with their distance learning plans. 

However, Kijewski said, “in recognition of the unique needs of each community, as superintendent of Catholic schools I am permitting chief administrators at each of our schools to shorten their respective academic year if and when called for by the local situation.”

Gov. Whitmer’s April 2 executive order also requires public school districts to develop remote learning plans, and said schools whose plans are approved will be granted a waiver of state-mandated seat-time requirements.

In an earlier communication with principals, pastors and parents, Kijewski said that regardless of the state’s ruling affecting public school districts, remote learning plans will fulfill students’ educational requirements in the archdiocese's Catholic schools.

“All distance learning instruction will count toward our instructional requirements and the education of our students will continue unabated,” Kijewski said.

Kijewski has been sending regular updates via video and emails as the COVID-19 situation unfolds. 

Invoking the protection of Blessed Solanus Casey, Kijewski urged school personnel and parents to join in praying for an end to the coronavirus crisis.

“As Archbishop Vigneron has said, ‘people of prayer are never helpless — never hopeless,’” Kijewski said.

This story has been edited to clarify the intent of Gov. Whitmer’s executive order and the state’s policy toward public schools’ remote learning plans.