Louisville Catholic Schools’ Quiet COVID Response

This is a message we received from a Louisville Catholic school parent:

“The teachers all thought surely the Archdiocese would listen to the Governor’s recommendation. When the Archdiocese announced that they would not be following the Governor’s recommendation, that’s when teachers started reaching out to me.

These are the things I’m most concerned about:

1. Teachers are afraid of losing their jobs, and are not being offered the opportunity to teach remotely instead of in-person. They are afraid of speaking up and talking to their peers for fear of retaliation for organizing as a “union.”

2. There appears to be a willful lack of transparency with regards to COVID cases in the schools- only the classrooms that are directly exposed to positive COVID cases will be informed of exposure. While I can understand not wanting to create fear for families, at the same time, parents should have this information as they are assessing the risk in sending their students to school. Because of the porous nature of a school community, and siblings in various grade levels, this will not be sufficient reporting. Obviously there are HIPAA regulations, but schools should regularly report aggregate cases within their school so that parents are adequately informed.

3. It appears that the Archdiocese is engaging in a game of brinkmanship with the Governor, trying to force him to make the ultimate call to protect the members of their school communities. They are putting economic profit above the health of their community members.

4. The Archdiocese is creating divisions between their members in our pandemic response. By defying the Governor’s recommendation, they send an antithetical message to one of the foundations of American society: that we band together to overcome adverse events. As we face a global pandemic, we should be unifying and aligning our response. ArchLou is fostering dissent.”

We also received this message from a concerned Catholic school teacher.
Below are some additional comments we received after posting our request for feedback:
“And I fear what will happen if (when?) Covid starts spreading. The [Catholic school administrators] told me they would not be reporting cases as they came up in the school because it would be a HIPAA violation. If that were true, the letters they send home for head lice would also be a HIPAA violation. I feel like families will be under a false pretense thinking that COVID hasn’t hit the school.”
[Catholic school administrator] said that XXXX was going to defy the governor no matter what the Archdiocese said.
“It’s this crazy-feeling underground network situation where everyone is terrified to speak up!”
“I’m still stunned at the comments [Catholic school administrator] made about main stream media blowing this out of proportion, and the death rate being so low and that children don’t spread COVID. We obviously get our news from very different sources.”
“I’m angry at the Archdiocese for thinking they are above the law, or that they can pick and choose which recommendations apply to them.
It sets a bad example for the kids, but also for the parents: that we are not all in this together. That they do not have to report exposure or symptoms or positive cases if they don’t think it would be in their best interest.”
“Parents with kids in public schools are making sacrifices to handle remote learning until JCPS goes back to in-person instruction. The Catholic Church is not acting in solidarity with the community as a whole in dealing with this virus, which has no discretion when it hits communities.”

Previous communications:

This is the email the Archdiocese sent to families on August 12. One parent noted they are “shamefully using scripture to justify their decision:”
August 12, 2020
Dear Catholic School families,
After consulting with Archbishop Kurtz – who also spoke with the other bishops in the Commonwealth of Kentucky – and after hearing from so many parents, we have decided that we will stay on course for the 2020-2021 school year and begin opening our schools for in-person instruction next week. I know schools have developed a variety of models to begin the school year and have communicated with families about these details. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The human body shares in the dignity of ‘the image of God’” (364). “Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good” (2288). We are all concerned about this COVID-19 pandemic and share a commitment to the common good. There are many “goods” to balance as we make this decision.
I considered several factors in making this decision. The hard work and planning over the last several months in creating a safe space for students to learn and thrive. I have been so impressed by all of our Catholic School’s creativity and care, and I heard from hundreds of parents who said: “Our schools are ready. We are confident. Please proceed with in-person instruction.” Our concern for the welfare of our students and their spiritual, social, emotional, and academic progress. I also am mindful of the challenges parents face as they strive to balance family life, work, and the need to support their families with the needs of children who are trying to participate in non-traditional instruction. The continuous conversations we have had with the Louisville Metro Public Health Department (LMPHD) and the support and resources the staff there have provided. I know many of you in schools outside of Jefferson County have established similar relationships with your local health departments. We will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments, either system-wide or at individual schools, as needed. In addition, during the week of September 6, all four dioceses of the Commonwealth will conduct an evaluation of our experience to date and will make any needed changes. As we move forward, I want to thank our parents for your support of your schools. We will rely on the careful attention to our “Healthy at School” guidance by parents, teachers, and administrators, and I encourage parents to focus on the important principles outlined in the School Re-entry Plan: mask wearing, hygiene, social distancing, health checks, staying home if sick. (To see the general guidance, go here.) I know I can count on everyone’s support and compliance as we gather again for another year of Catholic school education.
Please know of my prayers for you, your faculty and staff, and most of all your families. Thank you for your deep commitment to the ministry of Catholic education.
Leisa Schulz
Superintendent of Schools

We also received this message with concerns about KCD.




To share your concerns anonymously with Dear JCPS, please email moderator@dearjcps.com.

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