As I read today’s Sacramento Bee article reporting that the Sacramento City Unified School District and its teachers could not agree on a distance learning plan, I could only think: Catholic school teachers are amazing. You jumped into distance learning one day to the next, made it work, and ended the 2019-2020 school year strong. You executed so well that we saw the lowest drop in enrollment of any diocese in the state; many of our schools have gained students. You came back for summer programs, or took on new duties in preschool, or spent the summer reworking your curriculum. Now, you are preparing to deliver the curriculum to students at home and in the classroom simultaneously, if that’s what our students and their families need.
We are getting close to returning to campus in force, and I understand the challenges that come with that. We’ve honed our return-to-school plans in consultation with county health officers, we’ve read and adopted countless protocols on how to stay safe, we’ve had to rethink how we teach in a new environment - all while welcoming many new families to our schools.
Your selflessness does not go unnoticed. The Church needs you, and our students need you. Every day through all of this, I’ve recited St. John Baptist de la Salle’s Prayer of the Teacher Before School, and in my favorite passage, he prays to Jesus:
It is You who touch the hearts of the students entrusted to my care.
Abandon me not to myself for one moment.
You’ve done that. You have been His instrument of grace and He has not abandoned us to ourselves.
One of the blessings of my job is that I’ve been able to visit the campuses that are open, and they are hitting it out of the park - we are serving students on campus and at home, and everyone is minding the new rules. We understand the risks of people coming together, but we have robust plans to manage those risks, knowing that our students and communities are at risk of all sorts of things when they are not at school. I worry about community transmission, mental health, social-emotional growth, and losses in learning that will affect all students, but in particular the most vulnerable. As we work through the final stages of the waiver process this week, please know that I will be in close communication with our county health departments, and your principals and I will be in conversation about next steps.
Thank you for always being there for our students. Thank you for seeing Him in them.