Get Ready: School Doors Open Across the Neighborhood This Fall 

By Tina Jenkins Bell 
BAPA School Liaison  

What a difference one month can make, certainly when it comes to COVID-19 whose evil twin, the Delta Variant has increased complications and concerns.  

For our children’s sakes, we need to remember that COVID 19 is still a factor that we must navigate through and around. This requires our continued diligence (health precautions, following school guidelines, social distancing, and wearing masks when mandated), patience, and creativity as we prepare for schools to reopen. Plan now for support, such as vaccinated babysitters and tutors, or reactivated community pods. These and other steps are keys to our individual and community progress.  

School Start Dates and Vaccinations  

As it stands now, all schools plan to open in the fall. School starts for Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic schools (Catholic) on Aug. 25, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) on Aug. 30, and Morgan Park Academy (MPA) on Sept. 7.  

Some schools will continue to offer both in person and remote learning options; for example, CPS will offer in-person learning as well as a Virtual Academy. Check with your school for details on remote learning options, orientations, sports and other extracurricular activities, as well as vaccination requirements. 

Vaccinations 

The Center for Disease and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone age 12 years and older should get a COVID-19 vaccination. To get your child vaccinated, the City of Chicago suggests contacting your health care provider, pharmacy, Zodoc.com/vaccine, or vaccine finder, 312-746-4835. Parents can also contact their schools for local vaccination sites. Health care providers may also be able to put individuals on a list to receive vaccine availability alerts.  

Catholic Schools Return to Near Pre-Pandemic Operations 

The Archdiocese of Chicago recently announced its schools would return to near pre-pandemic operations. Accordingly, students who are fully vaccinated will not have to wear masks. Mass, athletics, music, and field trips will resume. Wellness checks and staggered drop off schedules will no longer be required. 

Heartstrings and Service Learning 

Matthew Gaughan, a graduate of Sutherland School and freshman at St Laurence High School this fall, loves dogs and more specifically, he loves German Shepherds. As a service-learning project, Gaughan raised $500 for German Shepherd Rescue, Inc., using GoFundMe to reach family and friends.  

With permission from his parents, he also fostered Georgia, a female German Shepherd who has been with Matthew since early July. “ We have really loved this experience as a whole family and feel it’s teaching all of us,”  said Tanya Gaughan, Matthew’s mother.  

Matthew Gaughan grew up with two German Shepherds, who passed at 13 years old in 2020. “He cares deeply for the breed and wanted to do this project in their memory,” his mother said.  

If your child is looking for a service-learning project or partner, visit https://bapa.org/schools/ for a list of BAPA service-learning partners who are eager to collaborate.  

In Closing 

As it stands today, there are so many more things we all know to do to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our community. Celebrate school openings and students returning to “near normal” learning scenarios, yes. But remember, near the end of June, prior to schools closing for the summer, we almost had COVID on the run with 66 cases in Cook County; by the end of July the number of new cases in the county had quadrupled. If we want to send COVID packing for good, we must continue to be proactive and diligent especially for the sake of our children. Let’s continue to work together toward that goal.  

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