Family Letter on Social Justice Frameworks From Dr. Chadzutko

September 15, 2021

Dear Families,

Over the past year, we have undoubtedly struggled as a nation in our battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, our communities and country have also experienced significant social, racial, and political turmoil. The divisions within our society seem to be growing at time when we need to focus on loving and supporting our neighbor. When watching the news or reading the paper, it is evident that the spread of hate within our communities is on the rise. 

Our Catholic faith calls us not only to be messengers, spreading the Good News of the Gospel, but also to act upon these teachings and truly live the Gospel message. It has become increasingly apparent our attention must focus on the way our students perceive their communities and the world, through the vision and mission of our faith. Our priority in helping students know and love Christ must also be to manifest this love in their interactions with others. 

The tenets of Catholicism have a strong basis in the fundamental understanding of the value and dignity of each person. As we see polarization and discord within our society, it is important for students to discuss and understand the world through the lens of Catholic Social Justice.  This is why Catholic Academies and Parish Schools are continuing the process of strengthening our incorporation of Catholic Social Justice into their religion curriculum. Catholic Academy and Parish School leaders have already engaged in professional learning over the summer on leading school communities in difficult conversations focused on equity, justice, race, and tolerance. Our leaders are the starting point for changes within the school community and are the foundation with which we will be able to support staff as well as student development

The Catholic Social Justice Curriculum focuses on living the Gospel message, to create a just society considering the trials of modern times. There are several focuses of Catholic Social Teaching including the principles of solidarity, the rights of workers, life, and dignity of the human person, call to family and community, rights and responsibilities, and options for the poor and vulnerable. Each of these themes is rooted in the value of human life and the need to pursue justice and peace throughout the world. Catholic Social Teaching addresses issues of inequality and injustice, by helping students learn about the problem at hand, yet encourages them to consider their role and impact on the world.  

To encourage conversations within the classroom, teachers will be provided with suggested texts and activities, which introduce topics in an age-appropriate manner. These lessons will tie into religion, social studies, and language arts standards. The following are example from various grade levels describing the types of lessons that will be incorporated as well as cross-curricular ties.

  • Kindergarten students will learn about how holidays are celebrated in other cultures. This theme, based on the teaching of solidarity encourages students to embrace other cultures, identifying similarities across the globe, as well as tying into a social studies standard of learning about other cultures. 
  • Grade 2 students will read a story about a young boy with different physical abilities and discuss what makes them unique. This theme reinforces the social studies standard that describes how communities are strengthened by the diversity of its members.  
  • Grade 4 students, in a study of the rights of workers, will investigate the importance of farms on food supply as well as the workers that contribute to this.  Discussions of farming and farm workers has strong ties to the grade 4 social studies standard which looks at the impact of the farming industry on New York State. 
  • Grade 6 students will be building on their understanding of world religions by studying the function of holidays for different religious groups, the connections between celebrations, and the historical context of religious development. This will emphasize the social studies curriculum of origins of world religions. 
  • Grade 8 students study the Reconstruction era in the context of challenges freed African Americans faced as part of their social studies curriculum. In continuation of the conversations of injustice, students will also look at slavery through reading and interpreting an African folktale.

Catholic Social Teaching is already a strong part of religion classes and will continue to encourage students to focus on caring for others through their faith. When we consider Catholic education, our goal must be the formation of saints and scholars, in that order. As such, faith development and living the Gospel message must be at the forefront of all that we do.

It is our hope to engage students at all grade levels with the intent of developing deeper conversations as students mature. Students may explore the same topic over the years, gaining a greater understanding and appreciation, as they get older with the overarching goal of developing a generation of servant leaders. We strive to graduate students who are globally focused, community oriented, and civically responsible. We want our graduates to be prepared to bring the words of the Gospel into the world, sharing the message of Christ in their words and actions.

Through the strengthening of our religion curriculum, we are committed to encouraging our students to grow in their faith. I pray for your continued support and commitment to helping your child along their journey of faith.

In Christ,

Thomas Chadzutko

Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D.

Superintendent ~ Catholic School Support Services

COVID-19 Health and Safety Parent Letter

The Catholic Academies and Parish Schools of the Diocese of Brooklyn remain committed to opening the academic year on time, in person, for every student. The Administration, Faculty and Staff of our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools are committed to doing everything possible to support the education, faith formation and health and safety of every member of our school communities.

The New York City Department of Health’s (NYC DOH) “Core Four” and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended layering of preventive strategies at this time is an effective way to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and the Delta variant. Everyone is reminded of the following in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19 and the Delta variant.

NYC DOH “Core Four

1. Stay home if you are sick. Anyone experiencing Covid-19 or Flu like symptoms should stay at home until their healthcare provider clears them to safely return to school.
2. Physical Distance: Maintain social distance. Where possible maintain a social distance of 3-6 feet while on school property.
3. Wear a Face Covering: Protect those around you. You can be contagious without symptoms and spread the disease when you cough, sneeze, or talk. Face coverings help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Do not provide face coverings to children 2 years of age or younger and carefully supervise pre-school age children when they are wearing face coverings. (NYS DOH: Effective August 27, 2021, in accordance with the Commissioner’s Determination issued pursuant to 10 NYCRR 2.60, any person over the age of 2 (including all students, personnel, teachers, administrators, contractors, and visitors) must wear masks at all times indoors in school buildings, regardless of vaccination status.)
4. Practice Healthy Hand Hygiene: Wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available; clean frequently touched surfaces regularly; avoid touching your face with unwashed hands; and cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hands, and help your child to do the same.

CDC Layered Approach of Preventive Strategies:

Promoting Vaccination
Consistent and correct mask use
Physical Distancing
Ventilation
Handwashing and respiratory etiquette
Staying home when sick and getting tested
Contact tracing, in combination with isolation and quarantine
Cleaning and disinfection

 

COVID-19 Vaccinations: Office of the Superintendent ~ Catholic School Support Services strongly encourages all eligible individuals to get vaccinated except for individuals with documented medical exemptions. For individuals with documented medical exemptions layered preventive strategies will be implemented. Due to privacy concerns individual vaccination status is not made public. At this time there is no New York State Vaccine Mandate for school faculty or staff. If or when New York State issues a vaccine mandate, updated information will be shared with the school communities.

The COVID-19 vaccination does not guarantee that avaccinated individual will not get COVID-19 or spread the virus it is however a critical tool in protecting you and your school community from severe COVID-19 illness, hospitalization, and death. COVID-19 vaccines are proven safe and are now protecting millions of vaccinated New Yorkers from COVID-19.

 

We appreciate your support and cooperation with thesehealth and safety guidelines intended to ensure in person instruction and protect our school communities. These guidelines will be monitored and updated as city and stateguidance continue to evolve.

 

May God continue to bless all our Catholic Academy and Parish School communities!

 

Thank you.

 

Letter for 3K and 4K Families


August 12, 2021 
 
Dear Families of 3K and 4K,
 
Hope you are all well and safe.
 
Next week you will recieve instructions concerning the reopening of school. School will open on Sept. 8, 2021. Howerver, there will be different schedules for the students. Please wait to recieve your email for the particular schedule for your child. 
 
Please continue to check the website – ssjaschool.org
 
Thank you for your patience and understanding.
 
Blessings,
Mrs. Freebes
 

Opening Plans and Policies for September 2021-2022

Dear Parents/Guardians:
  
Please read the letter from the Superintendent’s Office concerning the reopening of school in September.
 
Blessings,
Mrs. Freebes

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

The Catholic Academies and Parish Schools of the Diocese of Brooklyn are committed to opening the academic year on time, in person, for every student. The Administration, Faculty and Staff of our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools are committed to doing everything possible to support the education, faith formation and health and safety of every member of our school communities. 

Since March 2020, COVID-19 continues to bring many challenges, to our Catholic Academies and Parish School communities. The Administration, Faculty and Staff of all our  communities undertook these challenges and made what others claimed was impossible, possible. Our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools were open for in person instruction and experienced daily attendance rates of 95% or better. Even as we continue to face new variants of the COVID-19 virus, we continue to believe that in person instruction is best for our students. 

As the new Delta variant continues to circulate and the transmission rate increases, especially among children under age 12, we need to do all we can to continue to ensure the health and safety of each member of our school communities. To continue to ensure the health and safety of our school communities all the Catholic Academies and Parish Schools within the Diocese of Brooklyn will continue to use the COVID-19 Health and Safety guidelines from the 2020-2021 Re-Opening Plan as updated and outlined in the Core Principles and Minimum Requirements for COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines for 2021-2022 School Year. 

These guidelines utilize the implementation of a layered approach of preventive strategies:

  • Promoting Vaccination
  • Consistent and correct mask use
  • Physical Distancing
  • Ventilation
  • Handwashing and respiratory etiquette
  • Staying home when sick and getting tested 
  • Contact tracing, in combination with isolation and quarantine
  • Cleaning and disinfection

Please be assured that we, like everyone, want to resume “pre-pandemic” life.  Yet the pandemic continues to cause concern for us and our loved ones, as well as cause heartache, confusion, and rising anxiety levels.  We appreciate your support and cooperation with these health and safety guidelines intended to ensure in person instruction and protect our school communities. These guidelines will be monitored and updated as city and state guidance continue to evolve. 

May God continue to bless all our Catholic Academy and Parish School communities!

Thank you.

BROOKLYN AND QUEENS CATHOLIC SCHOOLS ANNOUNCE BACK TO SCHOOL COVID-19 SAFETY PROTOCOLS

Dear Parents/Guardians:
  
Please read the Press Release concerning the reopening of school in September.
 
Blessings,
Mrs. Freebes

BROOKLYN AND QUEENS CATHOLIC SCHOOLS ANNOUNCE BACK TO SCHOOL COVID-19 SAFETY PROTOCOLS

 

            The Office of the Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Brooklyn, which includes 69 elementary schools in Brooklyn and Queens, today has announced the COVID-19 safety protocols that will be in place when school opens on Wednesday, September 8, 2021.

 

            In the absence of a mandate, the New York State Department of Health recommends school districts adopt universal indoor masking for all based on guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Therefore, Catholic Academies and Parish Schools in Brooklyn and Queens will require all students, faculty, and staff members to wear masks beginning on the first day of school.

 

            In addition, school officials will continue to encourage vaccinations, social distancing, hand washing and hand hygiene, while maintaining the rigorous daily cleaning and sanitizing of facilities as well as enhanced ventilation. Parents will be reminded to keep their child home from school if they are sick, and their child will be required to receive medical clearance from a healthcare provider that they can safely return to in person instruction.  

The Catholic Academies and Parish Schools will also continue to follow city and state guidelines regarding contact tracing, quarantine and isolation protocols.

 

            “As the numbers of Coronavirus cases continue to spike in children, and the overall numbers of hospitalizations in New York City are on the rise, this is the most responsible approach to take when we begin the new school year. I know the return to these safety measures is not the situation parents, teachers or students were hoping to be the case in the 2021-2022 school year, but we cannot ignore the trends,” said Superintendent Dr. Thomas Chadzutko.

 

“Let us do our part from day one to prevent further increase of cases. If we are successful, as this academic year moves along, we will revisit these guidelines and adjust them accordingly. As much as we want a return to normalcy in our classrooms, we want our students, faculty, and staff to be safe,” continued Dr. Chadzutko.

 

“Looking at the trajectory of past pandemics, it seems that a virus such as this one does linger for some time even with the vaccination. I have received my vaccination and continue to encourage others to do so as well. It is our hope that the COVID-19 vaccines will help bring an end to this terrible virus that has controlled our lives for much of the past year and a half,” said The Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn.

Catholic schools in Brooklyn and Queens, in adherence to strict guidelines, opened on time for the 2020-2021 school year, and were able to offer five day a week instruction. Enrollment increased in nearly 40% of the schools last year in grades K-8. To learn more about Catholic Schools in Brooklyn and Queens, visit catholicschoolsbq.org.

 

Works of Mercy for Catholic Families

Dear Parents/Guardians,
 
 We think you will enjoy this article on the Works of Mercy. An activity for the children is included. 
 
Blessings,
Mrs. Freebes  


Works of Mercy for Catholic Families

This article defines both the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy and explores Jesus’ directive to his disciples to care for others. This article suggests ways that families can build their understanding of the seven corporal works of mercy and seven spiritual works of mercy and perform these acts of love. Plus, download our printable Works of Mercy Game Activitythat encourages Catholic kids and families to play and learn together.

the-works-of-mercy-corporal-works-of-mercy-spiritual-works-of-mercy-families

What are the Works of Mercy?  

When Catholics serve others, they give witness to Jesus Christ. As acts of love that help us care for the needs of others, the Works of Mercy are an opportunity for Catholics to give witness to Christ. Jesus entrusted his followers the responsibility of caring for others. One way that Catholics fulfill this responsibility is by performing the Works of Mercy.

Mercy is one of the fruits of charity, which enables us to show love and compassion to those who are suffering in any way, whether in mind, body, heart, or soul. The Works of Mercy are divided into two categories: The Corporal Works of Mercy (dealing with the body) and the Spiritual Works of Mercy (dealing with the mind, heart, and soul).

 

The Works of Mercy are an opportunity for Catholics to give witness to Christ.

The Corporal Works of Mercy

The Corporal Works of Mercy are acts of love that address the physical and material needs of others. The Corporal Works of Mercy are:

  • Feed the hungry.
  • Give drink to the thirsty.
  • Clothe the naked.
  • Visit the imprisoned.
  • Shelter the homeless.
  • Visit the sick.
  • Bury the dead.

The Spiritual Works of Mercy

The Spiritual Works of Mercy address the needs of peoples’ minds, hearts, and souls. The Spiritual Works of Mercy are:

  • Admonish the sinner. (Give correction to those who need it.)
  • Instruct the ignorant. (Share our knowledge with others.)
  • Counsel the doubtful. (Give advice to those who need it.)
  • Comfort the sorrowful. (Comfort those who suffer.)
  • Bear wrongs patiently. (Be patient with others.)
  • Forgive all injuries. (Forgive those who hurt us.)
  • Pray for the living and the dead.

Learning from Jesus

Mercy is a theme found in Scripture in the Old Testament, but Jesus elevated our understanding of mercy in the New Testament. Jesus made it clear that a path of discipleship towards eternal life involves caring for others. He identified himself as the one whom his disciples would love and care for: “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me) Matthew 25:40. Jesus asks us to see him in every person we meet, especially in those who are suffering in need. He asks us to care for each person in a spirit of loving service knowing that we are really loving and caring for Christ, who, through the Holy Spirit, lives on in every person.

Ways to Perform the Works of Mercy

All the Works of Mercy are practical ways for disciples of any age to live out the Catholic faith using their gifts, talents, and treasure. But performing just one of the Works of Mercy has an impact on the world. The Works of Mercy are powerful ways to show love to others. Performing Works of Mercy also prepares disciples for the Last Judgement, when Jesus Christ will come at the end of time to judge all people on how merciful they have been and how well they have treated those who are poor or in need. Jesus invites his followers: “Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me” (Matthew 25:31-32)

All the Works of Mercy are practical ways for disciples of any age to live out the Catholic faith using their gifts, talents, and treasure… The Works of Mercy are powerful ways to show love to others.

Download and share a game to support Catholic kids and families as they learn about and discuss the Works of Mercy. The printable game board features everyday actions that demonstrate mercy to others and those that do not. The gamecan be printed on heavy stock paper and decorated (ensuring text on the game squares remains legible). Kids and families can then cut out the pieces and play using the instructions on the printable activity and get inspiration for performing real Works of Mercy in the world.

The Works of Mercy Game

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In Summary

Performing the Works of Mercy enables disciples of Jesus to show love and compassion to those who are suffering in any way, whether in mind, body, heart, or soul. All Catholics have a responsibility entrusted to them by Jesus Christ to perform the works of mercy and will be judged on these merciful acts at the end of time. Help families grow in mercy and change lives with love and compassion through the Works of Mercy. Download the Works of Mercy Game Activity now.