Are LA's Catholic schools really leading the push to reopen?

The Feb. 26 cover feature “Catholic schools take the lead in reopening” celebrates Catholic schools as trailblazers, putting the needs of students and families first.

The fact that some schools are opening are great, however so many more remain closed.

My son attends a public school in a smaller district in LA County applied for a waiver and been able to open since November 2020. My question is why are the majority of Catholic schools waiting so long?

As a former Catholic school teacher, I am familiar with the struggle many schools face with low enrollment. One school that I worked at had to close after a long struggle to stay open. Another, where I taught combined classes, was also fighting to stay afloat. With a 3rd grade class of only 7, and a 5th grade of 11, the chances to stay open were slim. Then the pandemic came.

As scientists learned more regarding the virus, we heard from pediatricians and other medical professionals that students needed to return to school. Online learning was damaging to mental and psychological health.

I understood why the public schools were still closed – they were beholden to large unions that played politics and placed their own interest before that of families and children.

But what was never clear to me is why the archdiocese did not step up to open their schools sooner? Catholic schools, free to make their own decisions, were not under the thumb of powerful unions, and yet still remained closed. This was a fantastic chance to show the community that Catholic schools do care for the best benefit of students, obviously while still adhering to safety protocols. As we have heard from experts for months.

By opening the schools, the archdiocese had a chance not only to boost enrollment, but perform an act of Christian charity for so many families desperately in need of sending their children back to school.

I pray for this generation of students that have lost so much during this pandemic. Only time will tell how much damage we have caused our students. I hope the trend continues as more Catholic schools open in the Los Angeles Archdiocese.

- Yadranka Draskovic

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