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Diocese Of Brooklyn Moving Forward With In-Person Learning, But Is Offering Remote Program As Well

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- As many schools in the Tri-State Area have switched gears, choosing to keep children home for remote learning, the Diocese of Brooklyn is choosing to go in the opposite direction with full in-person learning.

CBS2's Hazel Sanchez went to a Catholic school in Bay Ridge on Wednesday to see how the school is preparing to keep students and faculty safe.

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Cleaning crews in hazmat suits were deep cleaning Bay Ridge Catholic Academy as it prepares to welcome back pre-school through eighth grade students full time in September.

"Getting ready for this year has been unique to say the least," Principal Kevin Flanagan said.


Flanagan said he has changed plans at least four times to keep up with every level of health and safety guidelines.

"So it's a constant struggle to make sure we're doing what's in the best interest of our students," Flanagan said.

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Beginning from the moment they walk in the door, students and faculty will be scanned by a thermal imaging camera.

"So when people walk through the building in the morning, they will have their temperature read. And if they have an abnormal reading, they will go and have a secondary screening," Flanagan said.

Classrooms originally fit for up to 30 students are scaling down for smaller class sizes of less than 20 for safe social distancing. Science labs and music rooms have been emptied out to make space for more classrooms. New hand sanitizer stations and ventilation fans have also been installed.

Safety reminders will be posted everywhere. Masks will be required of everyone. Students will be restricted to one classroom every day.

"We're trying to put enough outside time into the schedule that kids will be able to take mask breaks as long as they're socially distanced outside," Flanagan said.

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As for families not comfortable with in-person learning, the Diocese of Brooklyn has created a 100% virtual program for families who don't want to send their children to school.

"The Diocese has started the St. Thomas Aquinas Distance Learning Catholic Program, and that is a completely remote program that the parents can send their ... their children will be enrolled in, and parents still wish to have a Catholic education for their children," said Joan McMaster, Diocese of Brooklyn associate schools superintendent.

Flanagan said his school will be deep cleaned daily, and he will do everything afforded to him to keep everyone in the school safe.

Of the 16,000 K-8 students in the Diocese of Brooklyn, about 400 have signed up for the remote program. Some schools that lack space are being allowed to conduct hybrid learning.

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