Catholic K-12 schools in Santa Barbara County will continue distance learning and will not resume in-person instruction April 20 upon new direction from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
While acknowledging the need for extended closures, Paul Escala, the superintendent for Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Ventura Catholic schools, said Friday that the Archdiocese still hopes to reopen campuses before the end of the academic year.
“We must acknowledge the reality of this public health emergency — we do not know if we will return to campus before the end of the school year and preparing for this outcome is now essential. While it remains our hope to return to campus as soon as possible, the health and safety of our students and educators is our top priority,” Escala said.
The Santa Barbara Office of Education, on the other hand, has decisively stated that public K-12 schools will not be opening for the remainder of the academic year.
Local schools including St. Mary of the Assumption, St. Louis de Montfort, La Purísima Concepcion Catholic School and St. Joseph will all continue distance learning for the time being.
St. Joseph High School in Orcutt sent a message to families Friday informing them of extended closures and expressing hope for the school to reopen in May or June.
"I know that much is uncertain at this time, but I am proud that Mr. Escala has chosen to wait-and-see what the public health situation will be in late May rather than committing to closure for the rest of year at this juncture. We will all come back to campus when it is safe; right now we aren’t sure if that will be in May," said Erinn Dougherty, St. Joseph principal.
Since beginning distance learning on March 17, Dougherty said teachers have maintained the school's goal of academic rigor in their online lessons.
She added that St. Joseph is also committed to rescheduling all senior events to ensure the class of 2020 will be able to participate in traditions including prom, graduation, senior brunch, awards ceremonies and baccalaureate.
Laura Place covers city government for the Santa Maria Times.
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