Keeping students safe and learning

Students arrive for the first day of school Sept. 8 at Holy Cross Academy in Ross Township.

Students are learning an unexpected lesson as they work with their teachers and parents to receive a quality Catholic education during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Principals and teachers have been bold in trying new ideas to plan for every contingency,” Michelle Peduto, the diocesan director of schools, told Father Tom Burke September 13 on Catholic Education Plus on KDKA-AM. She is visiting the reopened elementary schools to see how the 32-page plan from the COVID-19 Educational Planning Team is working in the classroom.

The goal is “to help keep everyone safe and learning,” Peduto said.

The blueprint requires all students, faculty and staff to wear masks, and to practice social distancing and good hygiene. High school students who were the first to return to school have adjusted to wearing masks, she said, and elementary students are getting used to them.

“The children are also learning how to handle adversity, which is a great lesson,” she added.

About 85 percent of diocesan students currently are in the classroom, the rest are participating online.

“Livestreaming makes all the difference, so students at home can be with their classmates,” Peduto said. “Teachers are doing a great job.”

Serra Catholic High School in McKeesport has reopened after two students tested positive for the virus last week. The school building closed temporarily and sports programs were briefly suspended. The affected students followed health protocols including quarantine and are not experiencing symptoms.

Peduto said that, if cases increase, a change from in-classroom to remote learning may be necessary. She asks parents and students to continue to be patient.

Hear the entire interview at:

Below: Michelle Peduto with Father Matt McClain on Sept. 10 at St. Wendelin School in Butler County.