Houston-area Catholic schools begin classes Thursday

HOUSTON – Some Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston reopened Thursday, including St. Martha Catholic School in Kingwood.

The diocese allowed each of its 56 schools to decide how and when they would reopen.

“We are ready for kids to come back. We hope that they will see our Catholic schools as a safe place where they can come to learn and we can be a beacon of hope during this time,” said Superintendent Debra Haney.

Eighty percent of students are returning to the classroom at St. Martha Catholic School, which teaches children Pre-K through 8th grade.

Others decided to learn virtually from home.

“We’re excited about having kids in the school again. Teachers are excited about teaching again. Of course, there is a little bit of anxiety because we don’t know what the future’s going to hold,” said Father TJ Dolce of St. Martha Catholic School.

The school made a lot of changes for the new school year. They placed blue markers on the ground to split the hallways in two ways. Classrooms have been spread out, allowing for more space between students. Kids will remain in their classrooms for lunch and take turns on the playground.

“Recess is important for learning, so getting kids to make sure they get some time to run around outside, it’s important so we’re going to limit it to just to one class at a time,” said Father Dolce.

The school has also moved the nurse’s office into a classroom, giving her more room to keep kids separate. Teachers will take student’s temperatures twice daily.

“We wanted to make sure if anybody is running a fever, we’ll hold them out,” said Father Dolce. “We turned one of our classrooms into a bigger clinic so we could have a little more capacity for the nurse to handle any kids that may be getting sick and a place for them to spread out and social distance if they are exhibiting any signs of the coronavirus.”

Father Dolce said it’s likely all grades would not be able to attend their weekly mass together and visitors would not be allowed.

“It’s gonna be a challenge and it’s sad that we won’t get to have families come and pray with their kids for school mass days, but it’s still a value for our school. It’s part of the Catholic education,” said Father Dolce.

He said it could be tough to remind students, mostly the younger ones, to always stay socially distant.

“As a Catholic school, that’s our message, A message of hope and of God’s love and He’s present here. He’s gonna get us through it,” said Father Dolce.

Also, also every student here at St. Martha is required to wear a mask.

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