Catholic schools partner with Centura Health for safer in-school learning come fall

Centura donates two million masks to help keep students, staff protected

Aaron Lambert

The Archdiocese of Denver’s Catholic schools and Centura Health have teamed up to help parents and students feel safer from the novel coronavirus when in-school learning resumes in the fall.

Centura Health has been working closely with the Office of Catholic Schools and advising Catholic school leadership on their re-opening plans. A task force comprised of medical professionals from Centura Health, faculty from various local Catholic schools who have previous experience in the medical field, and others, including Deacon Rob Lanciotti, a former virologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has been assembled to help formulate and implement robust health protocols in all of the schools to ensure a safe learning environment is maintained.

“Centura has established a community partnership advisory team, and we did that to provide support to community organizations that came forward and asked for us to support them in understanding how they [can] welcome students back, and teachers and staff and everybody back into the schools and what that needs to look like,” Jennifer Wills, spokeswoman for Centura Health, told the Denver Catholic. “We’ve been meeting regularly with the Archdiocese of Denver Catholic Schools’ leadership team to provide guidance and recommendations that are really backed by scientific and clinical rigor.”

Keeping in line with what health organizations such as the CDC are suggesting, Centura Health has been providing counsel on what masking protocols should look like in schools, offering social distancing guidance and helping to understand proper protocols in situations such as isolating a student if they come to school and have a fever. They have also been offering guidance on cleaning and screening protocols.

Additionally, Centura Health has committed to donating two million masks to Catholic schools and other Catholic entities within the Archdiocese of Denver and beyond in an effort to share their resources and ultimately, help parents and students feel better about in-school learning.

“We’re neighbors helping neighbors and supporting one another as we manage through a pandemic and ensuring safety for everyone, all the communities,” Wills said.

“We are extremely grateful to Centura Health for their generosity and their gifts of time, talent, and resources to assist our schools during this unprecedented time in our history,” said Elias Moo, Superintendent of Denver Catholic Schools. “That Centura Health has stepped forward to say, ‘We are here to help you,’ speaks highly of the type of organization that they are, as well as their deep commitment to the communities they serve.

“As we continue to navigate this pandemic to ensure we can open our schools in the fall to in-school learning for all students in the most safe manner, one that promotes the health and common good of our whole Catholic schools community, we are proud to call Centura Health our partners and to begin what I hope will be a long and fruitful relationship.”

COMING UP: Catholic schools plan to reopen for in-school learning this fall

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Having endured a rather challenging last few months of the school year, parents of Catholic school students can now rest easy with the knowledge that Catholic schools will be open this fall.

In a letter issued May 29, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and Denver Catholic Schools Superintendent Elias Moo announced plans to reopen Catholic schools for in-school learning for the 2020-21 school year. At the forefront of these plans is the health and safety of students and faculty.

“We will carry out in-person instruction with increased health protocols and processes to ensure that our schools are going above and beyond to protect the health of every member of our Catholic school community, especially our most high-risk members,” said Archbishop Aquila and Moo in their letter. “We are confident our schools’ protocols and processes will keep our school environments as healthy and as safe as possible for all members of our communities.”

To help ensure healthy school environments are maintained, a task force composed of school leaders, nurse practitioners, doctors and a virologist has been assembled. This group is working with schools to identify the best health measures and policies in preparation for the coming school year.

For those parents who may not feel comfortable sending their children to school for any in-school learning, the archdiocese and Office of Catholic Schools are also formulating a virtual distance-learning option. Families who are interested will still be able to receive instruction in core content areas while remaining connected to their local school community. More details on this option will be available at the end of June.

Recognizing the unique challenges parents have faced over these past few months as schools have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Archbishop Aquila and Moo expressed sincere gratitude for their increased efforts in making distance learning a success.

“None of this would have been possible without the incredible efforts made by our parents to play an even bigger role in their children’s education,” they said. “While balancing your own work, caring for your families and other day-to-day responsibilities, you have stepped up to make sure we had a productive finish to the school year.”

Given the fluidity of the COVID-19 pandemic, Archbishop Aquila and Moo said that Catholic schools will continue to abide by mandated health protocols while working to keep Catholic schools operating for the good of the communities they serve.

“Our Catholic schools are a critical part of the educational ecosystem and fabric of our state, and we remain committed to working in a spirit of cooperation with our local and state officials when possible as we all seek to advance the common good of our communities,” they concluded.

As plans for reopening Denver’s Catholic schools are continually developed, parents are invited to participate in a survey to help school leadership consider the needs of the community so they can open schools in the safest possible manner. The survey can be accessed by visiting denvercatholicschools.com.