Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Nashville will open as scheduled for the 2021-22 academic year with relaxed Return to School Protocols, Dr. Rebecca Hammel, superintendent of schools announced in a letter to families and friends of Catholic education on July 7.
“Currently, all counties in which we have schools are experiencing minimal spread of the coronavirus, which allows us to operate with many pre-pandemic protocols” Hammel wrote.
“These relaxed guidelines will be observed as long as local community cases meet the “low transmission” or “minimal spread” thresholds presented by the (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and local health authorities. If health officials reinstate mandates relative to local conditions, schools in those areas may adjust their COVID-19 mitigating protocols as well.”
“As always, safety and well-being are top priorities for us, especially as we welcome your children back to campus with pre-pandemic measures,” Hammel wrote. “We will maintain best practices for improved health conditions learned through the pandemic, such as frequent handwashing, distancing when possible, and maximized ventilation enhancements to the extent possible. We plan to resume athletics, extra-curricular activities, and clubs on typical schedules as well, mindful of course of these same best practices.”
Hammel added that vaccinations are now available for children as young as 12 years of age and that Ascension St. Thomas West Hospital campus is offering vaccinations each Friday from 7 a.m. to noon. Parents can register for vaccines at https://asctn7654.radixhealth.com/dash/self/#/.
The Catholic Schools Office has developed guidelines that will be in effect throughout the diocese, while each school will develop specific protocols based on their local conditions. The Schools Office guidelines include:
- COVID-19 vaccinations are not required of any student or employee, though encouraged.
- Remote learning and working options are no longer necessary; students and employees should plan to return to campus.
- Masks are no longer expected though an individual may certainly choose to wear one. Physical barriers are no longer expected between students in learning spaces. Handwashing and social distancing (3 to 6 feet) will be promoted.
- Screening procedures may be halted; temperature checks and COVID questionnaires will not be required before entering campus. Parents are asked to monitor children’s health before dropping them off at school.
- Quarantine and isolation procedures will adhere to local and CDC guidance. Close contacts of infected individuals will be alerted and may return to school when they are asymptomatic and one of the following is true: (a) the prescribed quarantine period expired; (b) proof of a valid COVID-19 vaccination is produced; (c) clearance from a physician is received; or (d) the close contact has had Covid-19 in the previous 90 days.
- Each school will communicate their plans to families prior to the start of school.