New Windsor Sister Dale McDonald on Catholic Schools Week


Sister Dale McDonald

Earlier this month more than 6,000 Catholic Schools observed the 47th annual Catholic Schools Week (CSW), albeit remotely and safely, during the pandemic. In various ways, schools are virtually celebrating their mission: providing value-added education that focuses on the lifelong development of moral, intellectual, physical, and social values for their students. While social distancing protocols have canceled many of the public celebrations at statehouses and other public places, a special national tradition continues. Each year a resolution is introduced in both houses of Congress during CSW that acknowledges the contributions of Catholic schools to the nation as well as the church.

Despite all of the economic and safety hazards caused by COVID-19, more than 80% of Catholic schools have been open for full-time, in-person classroom instruction in accordance with state and local safety guidelines. Teachers and principals have made heroic efforts to provide continuous learning opportunities for their students. Families may choose to send their children to the building or engage in virtual instruction in real-time with their classmates.

As director of public policy for the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), my advocacy activities involve working with national leaders to assure that the benefits in the COVID-19 relief bills enacted by Congress in the CARES Act are available to and utilized by our schools. Many of the expenses incurred to provide a safe environment and access to virtual learning for students who may lack the technology to participate remotely are provided for in the legislation. With continued support from private and public resources, students in Catholic schools can continue their education this year as we all hope and pray for better times to come!