July 7, 2020

Dear Preschool Families,
 
I hope this note finds you all well and beating the July heat! 
 
In Governor Cooper’s press conference last Wednesday, we were anticipating an announcement about school re-opening for the upcoming year. I am sure you are aware that his decision, unfortunately, was postponed. In his conference, we did hear him say that his highest priority is for students to return to the classroom. Ours is too!

Since Governor Cooper has postponed his decision on school re-opening, the Diocese of Raleigh’s Catholic Schools Office (CSO) also delayed its meeting with principals and directors that was scheduled for July 6th. Being part of the Diocese of Raleigh means that any final plan needs to not only have the approval of parish leadership but of the CSO as well.  Despite all of the waiting, I am continuing to work with our re-opening task force, parish leaders, the CSO, and other Diocesan preschool directors to carefully develop a plan for our preschool to re-open at full capacity in August. Of course, things are constantly changing and so we have to be prepared to modify plans and proposals quickly. As I have mentioned in previous correspondence, we do plan to re-open even if Governor Cooper chooses a hybrid model (his plan B) in which school will be a combination of in-person and remote learning for K-12 schools. If his directive is an all-remote learning model (his plan C) then we will delay opening. We will not open under a virtual learning model; it is not in the best interest of our students to start a brand new year in this way. If all goes well and we have our state, religious, and local leaders’ decisions and can re-open in August as planned, I will hope to share our plans by mid-July.
 
While we continue to plan, we maintain a strong focus on our mission of providing a safe and nurturing environment that educates each child spiritually, cognitively, physically, and emotionally. This is best achieved with developmentally appropriate in-person instruction. Our goal is to return in August in a way that maintains the integrity of preschool but also minimizes health risks. Please be assured that we have always maintained high safety standards. Our staff is quite used to disinfecting and teaching about handwashing and the spreading of germs! While we will certainly intensify our efforts and be careful to incorporate the CDC and NCDHHS guidelines, I am confident in our staffs’ abilities to limit the health risks as much as possible. Additionally, the church is committed to assisting both the preschool and TFS as much as they can. This includes allowing us to reconfigure and utilize church spaces that we don’t use on a regular basis. It also involves seeking out vendors to purchase disinfectant in larger quantities, new cleaning devices, and additional PPE supplies at reasonable prices.  
 
We know that next school year will look and feel differently than what we know as ‘normal’. We also know that we will ask families to partner with us in ways that you haven’t had to in the past. We, however, additionally recognize that being physically present together, with safety measures in place, will allow for both students and staff to develop positive relationships, which is paramount to learning and development. It is part of what makes preschool so important to the future success of children.

These are two main resources that school leaders are using to help formulate plans.

Thank you for your ongoing patience! I recognize that everyone is anxiously waiting for guidance. Please continue to pray for all leaders who are working to provide the best and safest education for our children.
 
With Joy,
Heidi Hobler
Director
St. Francis of Assisi Preschool
11401 Leesville Road Raleigh, NC 27613
919-847-8205 ext. 240