Schools in the Diocese of Wilmington will be closed through March 27 as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic spread throughout the state and the country. The diocesan Office for Catholic Schools made the announcement early in the afternoon of March 13.
Louis De Angelo, superintendent of schools, said the closures will affect all “Catholic elementary and secondary schools — parish, regional and diocesan — in the Diocese of Wilmington … beginning Monday, March 16, through Friday, March 27.” The schools will work with students to continue their learning during that time.
“In the event that schools may need to remain closed past Friday, March 27, an updated communication will be sent to you,” De Angelo said in a letter to school personnel.
During this closure, staff may be asked to report to school for meetings or other work responsibilities. Also, a thorough cleaning is encouraged for each facility.
Several schools are not covered by this communication. Two of them, Ursuline and Salesianum, are closed next week for regularly scheduled spring break. Brittany Keller, the marketing and communications manager at Ursuline, said the campus will undergo a “deep cleaning” next week while the buildings are empty, and all sports are canceled. In addition, field trips and other events have been nixed through the middle of April.
“If we do not return to school after spring break, our students and faculty are prepared to shift to virtual learning,” Keller said.
Salesianum principal Oblate Father Chris Beretta emailed parents on March 12 with the latest information from the school. All extracurricular activities, including athletic practices and games, are canceled through March 22. Access to the building will be restricted until the same date while it is cleaned and sanitized. All school events, both on and off campus, are canceled through March 31. Student trips are canceled through the end of March, and all school travel outside the country has been put on hold until May 31.
“The health and well-being of every member of our school community is our priority. We appreciate your support in the important and urgent effort to safeguard our community, exercise our Christian and civic duty to public health, and prepare students for unprecedented challenges,” Father Beretta wrote.
Salesianum has set up a dedicated web page to offer resources related to COVID-19. It is located at www.salesianum.org/coronavirus-resources.
Students at Archmere Academy in Claymont were already scheduled to be off Monday so the school could be cleaned. Stephanie Silverman, the school’s director of marketing and communications, said additional information would be posted on its website late Friday afternoon.
Two organizations, the National Association of School Psychologists and the National Association of School Nurses, have issued guidelines for talking to children about COVID-19.
“Acknowledging some level of concern, without panicking, is appropriate and can result in taking actions that reduce the risk of illness,” a letter sent home with students reads. “Helping children cope with anxiety requires providing accurate information and facts without causing undue alarm.”
The organizations recommend that parents and guardians remain calm and reassuring; make themselves available, as children might need extra attention and might want to talk about their concerns; avoid excessive blaming; monitor television viewing and social media; maintain a normal routine to the extent possible; be honest and accurate; know the symptoms of COVID-19; review and model basic hygiene and healthy lifestyle practices for protection; discuss new rules or practices at school; and communicate with their school.