Twin Cities Catholic schools make plans to return to in-person classes this fall

Desks are stacked at St. Joseph School in Rosemount, Minnesota. This fall, staff are making plans for students to return to in-person classes.

There’s still no official word on what the plan is for Minnesota’s public schools this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Districts have been told to prepare for three scenarios: in-person learning, distance learning or a hybrid model. The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, however, has made it clear the model they want for their students and now principals are putting it into action.

The principal at Saint Joseph’s in Rosemount announced to parents just a few days ago that they are moving forward with plans to reopen the school building for the upcoming school year per the Archdiocese’s recommendation.

“The goal is to have in-person learning start in the fall – it will include contingency plans for hybrid or distance learning if needed as we go further into the fall,” said Principal Kelly Roche.

That’s the plan for the 100 or so private Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. They have been working on it since the end of May, when church leaders announced to parents it would be a goal to get students back into the buildings by the fall. Now, they’ve taken the next steps to make that reality.

“There was a webinar today and there will be more training from the Archdiocese to go over protocols and how your committee will then form your preparedness plan,” said Roche.

It will be a welcome change for third grader Lilah Kelley, who says she’s excited to return to in-person classes.

“I missed my friend and my teacher,” said Lilah.

Lilah’s mom, Jenelle Kelley, says she was thrilled to hear the news and is onboard, even though COVID-19 concerns linger.

“I think I have realistic concerns of what the potential risks are, but I think for now the benefits of them being there seem to outweigh the risks,” she said.

School and church leaders say they’ll continue to put that in-person plan together with flexibility in mind.

“We don’t have all the answers yet,” said Roche. “We’re working it out from the guidance from experts and changing plans as we learn new information."

The Department of Education points out they only have jurisdiction over the state’s public and charter schools and not private ones, so schools like St. Joseph’s can choose to reopen. The state will release their official guidance to the public and charter schools the week of July 27.