Teachers and staff at Northside Catholic Academy in Pittsburgh’s Brighton Heights neighborhood gathered in a half-circle before the first day of school Thursday morning to pray to the Blessed Mother.
“Mary, we ask for your guidance as we welcome our students into our school this coming school year. Amen.”
With that, principal Rosanne Kwiatkowski pushed open the front doors to start a new academic year, greeting every returning student by name.
“Good morning, Colin, how are you? How are you, Kiera?”
“Uh, well…” came the hesitant answer.
“We’re here, right?” Kwiatkowski replied. “Go on in and get some breakfast!”
Enrollment is up over last year, according to Kwiatkowski. The goal once again during the COVID-19 pandemic is five-day-a-week, in-classroom learning, which means face coverings, social distancing, and an appreciation that everyone is together again.
Remote learning will only take place in cases of quarantine or special medical exemption.
“We ask parents to do a ‘well-child’ check every morning,” Kwiatkowski said. “Take their temperature, ask how they’re feeling and make sure they have no cough or cold symptoms. It’s important to really listen to your children and be responsive.”
“We did such a great job last school year—this is an extension of that,” said Michelle Peduto, director of Catholic Schools. “We’re so happy to be in class together, and keeping everyone safe is the most important thing.”
Once students were in their homerooms, the day began as always with prayer.
“The mission of our Catholic schools is to provide an environment where children can encounter Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior each day,” Peduto said. “The more they come to love Jesus, the more successful they will be in life.”