Faith in our ADOM Schools
Faith in our ADOM Schools
Why this petition matters
As families belonging to the Archdiocese of Miami (“ADOM”) we wish to express our deepest concerns with respect to the correspondence that was issued on July 31, 2020 by Reverend Wenski, Archbishop of Miami, and Dr. Kim Pryzbylski, Archdiocesan Superintendent of Schools, wherein the administration and families belonging to ADOM were notified that the 2020-2021 school year would begin with only live-streamed classes or online instruction for grades K-12, at least until September 18th. In such correspondence it was noted that this decision “was arrived at after considerable consultation with the Florida Department of Education, the Florida Catholic Conference, local health officials and “feedback” solicited from parents themselves.”
Given that, to our knowledge, the “feedback” that was used to come to this decision was not shared with any ADOM families, we would like to provide the below additional feedback and thereby respectfully request that the ADOM either
(i) provide ADOM families with the choice as to whether their respective children begin the 2020-2021 school year virtually or in person, or
(ii) if choice is not something the ADOM is willing to provide, that it compensates families via tuition reimbursements for the added costs each family will be faced with as they arrange for the physical care of their children.
While we all acknowledge that Covid-19 is a serious illness that needs to be carefully addressed, we are also thankful that the best available evidence indicates that if children do become infected, they are far less likely to suffer severe symptoms. Further, that the science suggests that children are not effective spreaders of the virus. It is imperative to acknowledge that we need to not just consider the risks of going back to school in-person, but also acknowledge and weigh the risks of not doing so. As set forth by both the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics, the harms attributed to closed schools on the social, emotional, and behavioral health, economic well-being, and academic achievement of children, in both the short- and long-term are well known and significant. Children thrive on routine and benefit from supportive, social environments - the loss of human connections, physical activity and dependable routines will continue to drive increases in stress, anxiety and depression that many children may never overcome. Virtual learning as the only option was an initial response that got us through the first few weeks of this pandemic so that we, as a society, could learn more about the disease and how to beat it - it is not a long-term solution and given all we’ve learned about this disease to date, families should be able to make this decision for themselves.
It is important to remember that keeping schools closed also has an impact on the amazing and loving teachers, administrators and support staff that work at each of our schools. Fortunately, the science suggests that teachers are less likely to be infected by students, and as such, adult’s main health concern is protecting against transmission between themselves. We need to arm teachers with the necessary tools, training and equipment they need to feel safe. We are confident that our schools are willing and able to do this, and further, that led by the capable and hardworking administrators at each of our schools, that the schools can be flexible enough to allocate those adults that are in high risk categories (or that live with loved ones that are) to those students that choose to attend school virtually. These are trying and unique times, but we know first-hand how capable and ingenious the leaders in each of our communities are. And as such, we trust them, not just to take the best care possible of our children, but of themselves as well.
The ADOM has 7 High Schools and 54 elementary schools, which together service approx. 33,000 students. Not only is each student and each family unique, but each such school is as well. Each school has its own particular community, with families coming from different socio-economic backgrounds, children with different learning, emotional and physical needs. Many, if not all, such schools have already taken proactive steps to comply with CDC guidelines on a safe return to in-person teaching. Rather than treat each of these unique schools with one blanket policy, the ADOM should empower the administration and staff at each school, together with the families that comprise the school’s community, to determine what is best for its respective students.
Each family attending an ADOM school has made the proactive choice to send their children to an ADOM school because we feel it is what is best for our children. While some parents are able to homeschool their children during the day, many others cannot. As such, they will be put under financial duress as they figure out how to maintain their jobs, pay for childcare services during the day and all the while continue paying their children’s tuition. The sad reality is that many families do not have the financial wherewithal to handle all of this. As a result they will be forced to pull their children from the ADOM system. This will be detrimental for our ADOM communities, not just for families, but for the schools that will be left with less resources as a result of the attrition in enrollment.
We again reiterate our respectful request that the ADOM revise their current stance and permit each school under its purview to offer parents a choice between in-person and virtual schooling. Failure to do so will have not only a detrimental effect on our children, but on administrators, teachers and staff as well. If the ADOM is not willing to consider this, then we request that families be compensated via tuition reimbursements for the added costs each will bare in providing for the physical care of their children, so that all families may continue to have the financial ability to maintain their children enrolled in ADOM schools.