Superintendent expects Catholic schools will return to in-person classes this fall

A student at John Paul II Classical School in Lincoln Park smiles as she reads during class in late 2018. A 14-member task force is working to recommend guidelines for Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Detroit to safely return to in-person classrooms this fall, said superintendent Kevin Kijewski. (Naomi Vrazo | Detroit Catholic)

Task force of school officials, parents, government leaders and health experts expected to release guidelines next month for safe return

DETROIT — It is expected that Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Detroit will return to in-person classes this fall, superintendent Kevin Kijewski said in a June 17 letter to parents.

Kijewski’s announcement comes on the heels of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s announcement that public schools in the state will also be permitted to return to their classrooms for the 2020-21 school year.

A 14-member task force has been working to finalize plans for safely returning to the classroom this fall, Kijewski said, and those plans are expected to be released in July.

The task force includes leaders from a half-dozen Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Detroit, as well as archdiocesan leaders, parents, a school pastor, a local judge and an infectious disease expert from Ascension Health.

“These guidelines are being developed in conjunction with information from the State of Michigan and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Kijewski said. “The health, safety, and well-being of all educators and students is of paramount importance.”

As of June 17, Michigan had 60,393 confirmed COVID-19 cases, but the number of infections in the state has been trending downward, even while the virus continues to rage in other parts of the country. 

According to COVID Act Now, a national nonprofit that tracks states’ progress in containing the coronavirus, Michigan has been one of the most successful states in reducing the number of cases since the initial outbreak began in March. However, public officials continue to monitor trends.

“We will continue to closely monitor the situation through the summer and into the fall. Our goal remains to assist all Catholic schools to be prepared to embark on another enriching academic year with our students this fall, while remaining responsive to the public health situation as it stands at that time,” Kijewski said.