Catholic Academy of Stamford readies for full return

STAMFORD — Like all other schools, The Catholic Academy of Stamford has been shuttered since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And like all other schools, the academy had to decide whether to reopen its doors this fall, to whom and how often.

Following guidelines set forth by government and Diocese of Bridgeport authorities, the school, located on 1186 Newfield Ave., has opted for a full return, in-person instruction five days per week.

But staff spent their summers preparing for more than just that eventuality. The also planned for a sudden close order, resulting in distance learning; and created an option to accommodate individual families who need temporary distance learning for their children.

Parents, many of whom attended preview days in July, said they feel secure sending their kids back. The school’s 250 students return for the first full day of school on Sept. 8, following orientations days.

“I feel secure knowing there’s a plan, and knowing that as things shift, the school will navigate too,” said Keri LaRa, a parent of a second-grader and fifth-grader at the school.

Jeanette Noriega, a mother of a third-grader at the school, said she appreciates the social distancing and other precautions the school has established.

“All the desks have been measured to be six feet apart. The kids’ school supplies are kept separately to prevent any sharing of supplies or cross contamination,” she said. “Despite all the new safety measures in place, the classroom still feels warm and inviting. With all the changes going on, it’s important that the kids feel their classroom is a safe and inviting place.”

Principal Patricia E. Brady said faculty and staff have worked over the summer to prepare classrooms and other spaces, “as well as prepare for multiple, potential avenues to deliver instruction throughout the upcoming school year.”

“I am blessed to have a faculty and staff here that truly demonstrated what this school community has always been about — providing our students with a faith-filled, safe, nurturing, academically challenging environment,” Brady said.

The school was formed in 2017 after the Stamford-based schools Saint Cecilia, Holy Spirit, Our Lady Star of the Sea and Trinity Catholic Middle School closed, and the diocese created one flagship school in the city on one campus.

Students will maintain a distance of six feet from each other whenever possible, with masks being worn in hallways and common spaces. Student movement will be limited throughout the school and one-way flow procedures will be established if possible.

Procedures for self-reporting of temperature or symptom checks will be established and sanitizing stations by all interior and exterior entrances will be provided. The students will have their lunch in classrooms if social distancing cannot be maintained.

Classes will use outdoor spaces when possible and if a small group meeting space is utilized, partitions will be considered and students will be required to wear masks, school officials said. The school is currently building three new outdoor learning spaces.

“This coming school year will provide both unique opportunities and challenges in the new normal of education, in and out of the classroom,” said Michelle DeRubeis, who teaches English language arts for grades 6-8. “I have no doubt that my sixth, seventh and eighth-graders will meet both head on, and will exhibit true witness and leadership for their fellow CAS classmates to follow.”