News & Information

Reopening of our Brooklyn and Queens Catholic Academies and Parish Schools

September 2, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians We hope you and your children are doing well and preparing for the reopening of our Brooklyn and Queens Catholic Academies and Parish Schools next week on Wednesday, September 9, 2020.

I am sure that many of you are wondering how Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement yesterday, delaying the opening date of New York City public schools until September 21, might impact us. We want to assure you that our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools will NOT be affected by this decision. We are proceeding with our plan to reopen on September 9 in either of two ways: 100 % in-person or hybrid. Our St. Thomas Aquinas Distance Learning Program will begin orientation on Wednesday, September 16, 2020

We expect that the New York City – Department of Education will fulfill its obligations to our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools. By New York City Education Law, the Department of Education must provide essential services like nurses, transportation, meals, and special education and related services. Other services like security guards and crossing guards are provided to us through other agencies.

It is also our expectation that the NYC Pre-K For All Programs will start as previously determined by your Catholic Academy or Parish School.

Again, we look forward to welcoming your children back to school, as scheduled, next Wednesday, September 9th.  Principals, board members, teachers, and the entire school staff at our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools have worked tirelessly this summer to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment is in place for all  our students, faculty, staff and parents. Our re-opening plans are in compliance with updated mandates and guidance from New York City, New York State, Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control. Please make sure that you review your Catholic Academy/Parish School Re-Opening Plan available on their website

May everyone be healthy, safe, and well as you enjoy these last few days of summer.

Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D.
Superintendent ~ Catholic School Support Services  

4 Ways You Can Support Your Child During the COVID-19 Crisis

Being there for your child during times of distress are essential to ensuring his or her health and well-being. During crisis, you may be struggling to find effective ways of communicating the reality of the virus and its effects to your child, and he or she may be experiencing feelings of confusion and worry as the world adapts to these new and frightening changes.

The first step to making sure you and your child remain stable and successful during this period is to stay calm. Below are ways you can support your child during the COVID-19 crisis.

Emphasize the Importance of Practicing Healthy Habits

The first step in protecting your child is ensuring he or she knows how to be sanitary. Handwashing isn’t optional – in fact, it’s one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the virus. Practice washing hands with your child. While it may seem like a self-explanatory practice, once children have been aware of for most of their lives, it’s important to be thorough. Clean for at least 20 seconds, and make sure your child is cleaning underneath the nails, in between the fingers, and around the wrists.

Be an Active Participant in Your Child’s Distance Learning

Be a constant source of support for your child as he or she adapts to the transition from a traditional classroom to an online learning environment. Set a work schedule for your child and work together to establish plans for prioritizing tasks. If your child is younger, be engaging by planning creative and fun activities that you can do together, such as coloring, building a puzzle, or playing an educational game supported by a website or app.

Be Direct, Honest, and Open with Your Child about the Coronavirus and Its Effects

Clear and open communication with your child is a crucial element in supporting his or her life and learning away from school. Children suffer more in darkness, and it’s vital that you serve as a source of information that your child can trust. Make an effort to communicate the facts to your child in a way that’s age-appropriate, and don’t be afraid of the questions your child may ask. Ensure your child understands that COVID-19 poses a low threat to young, healthy people. Also, let your child know that there are simple ways to help, such as washing hands, avoiding contact with the face, and covering the mouth when coughing.

Be There for Your Child Emotionally

During this period, your child may be feeling isolated – after all, it may be his or her first time being away from close adults and friends for an indefinite period of time. Speak with your child often, and emphasize the fact that he or she always has you to lean on for moments of support, kindness, and, most importantly, love. Make sure your child knows that you’re his or her number one fan!


Establishing and Maintaining a Routine for Your Child During the Coronavirus Crisis

Routine is healthy for children, no matter the situation. In high-energy times of confusion and panic, however, positive repetition is crucial to staying stable and productive. As your family practices “social distancing,” or actions intended to stop or slow the spread of infection, establishing and maintaining a routine together with your child is the first step to being successful in the transition to online learning.

Use the examples below for inspiration for designing your child’s routine as he or she continues to adapt to the changes wrought by COVID-19.

Why Routine is Important

With so much news and information surrounding the Coronavirus floating around, your child is bound to pick some of it up. He or she may feel anxious or confused, and many new and difficult questions may arise. Routine is the key to easing these anxieties and ensuring your child remains focused on learning.

“Routines provide structure and a sense of safety, which helps our students to be ready to learn and take intellectual risks,” says Ellen Mahoney, the author of Ten Strategies for Educators’ Wellbeing: A Handbook for Schools During the COVID-19 Outbreak. By starting early and encouraging your child to be healthy and active at every stage of the routine, he or she will be better prepared to face the transition from learning in the classroom to learning at home.

Example Home-Schooling Schedule
Before 9:00 a.m. – Wake up, brush your teeth, make the bed and get dressed, and eat breakfast.
9:00-10:00 a.m. – Practice a morning ritual, beginning with a prayer with your child, and then a short walk or light exercise.
10:00-11:00 a.m. – Time for learning! For older children, do your schoolwork as assigned by your teacher. For younger children, consider puzzle books, flash cards, journaling, or study guides that align with materials provided by their teacher.
11:00-12:00 p.m. – Use this hour to be creative. Draw or paint a picture, craft a project, or play music.
12:00-12:30 p.m. – Have a healthy and balanced lunch.
12:30-1:00 p.m. – Do household chores or ask your parents/guardians if they need any help.
1:00-2:30 p.m. – Use this time as quiet time. Read a book, put together a puzzle, or take a nap.
2:30-4:00 p.m. – More time for learning! For older children, continue with your teacher-assigned work. For younger children, consider incorporating technology into this academic time by watching an educational television show or playing educational iPad games.
4:00-5:00 p.m. – Practice an afternoon ritual, such as a walk or light exercise.
5:00-6:00 p.m. – Have dinner with your family.
6:00-8:00 p.m. – Use this time as free time. Watch television or play games!
After 8:00 p.m. – Go to bed and prepare for the next day.

Resources for Enriching Your Child’s At-Home Experience

During this transitional period from learning in the formal classroom to learning from home or elsewhere, your children may crave further activities and resources that will enhance their learning experience. In this technological age, screen time has become deeply ingrained in current pedagogies – providing your children with additional online educational resources can support their learning as they remain physically separated from their teachers and peers.

Khan Academy Kids – For your children ages two to seven, this app serves as curated collection of activities, books, videos, and coloring pages. a collection of books This app contains books and activities for ages 2-7.

BrainPop Jr. – This site targets children in Kindergarten to 3rd grade that supports core and supplemental subjects. While the site has subscription options, it also has free videos and activities.

BreakoutEdu – This site’s digital “escape rooms” give children an outlet for some healthy competition, designed using grade appropriate content for Kindergarten through 12th grade. (options for K-12). Several rooms for different grade levels are available for free.

Code – This site teaches students how to code through fun and free games and instruction.

Mystery Science – Aimed at children in Kindergarten through 5th grade, this site provides access to science related videos, lessons, and activities. For the remainder of the academic year, the site is currently offering its resources at no cost.

PBS Kids – Use this website for fun videos and games for your child. The site also provides helpful tips for parents and children for successfully learning at home.

Sesame Street – Aimed at younger children, this site provides access to a collection of videos, games, and art.

Starfall – For younger children in Pre-K to 3rd grade, this website provides access to a collection of videos, games, and reading activities. Paid and free content are both available.

Vooks – For the remainder of the academic year, this website will provide access to animated read-aloud texts for free.


Blast Off Into Learning!

Story Time in Space
Use the link below to listen to watch an astronaut read a story from the International Space Station. For older students, check out the “Science Time Videos” tab to watch experiments completed by the astronauts.

Space Racers
This is an animated series for younger students featuring space. The website has videos, games, and also a “Parents” tab that includes activities that can be done at home involving space.

Earth from Space
This site houses a collection of photos of the Earth from space. Students can look for familiar locations from around the world and the US.

Space Themed Writing Prompts
• You’ve just landed on the moon. Use your senses to describe what you see, hear, feel, and touch.
• If you want to space, what three items would you want to bring with you? Why would you bring these items?
• Write a journal entry from the point of view of an astronaut

Add pictures to your writing to highlight important ideas.

Space “Jams” (PK-2)
Eight Planets Dance Along

Planet Song

Space Crafts

Materials: White paper, marble, paint, plastic spoon, container with raised sides

space artwork crafts projectCut out a planet shape. Then dip a marble in washable paint and use a spoon to move it around the shape. The rolling marble creates swirls as seen on planets. Roll the marble inside a container with raised sides to keep the marble from rolling away.

space artwork crafts projectMaterials: Black paper, constellation images, chalk, star stickers or yellow crayon to draw stars

Give your child an image of a constellation (available on Google images). Have them use star stickers or draw star shapes to recreate the constellation. Use chalk or white crayon to connect the stars and write the constellation name.

space artwork crafts projectMaterials: Phases of the moon pictures, oreos/ black and white paper

Give your child images of the moon phases. Using oreos or black/white paper pieces have your child recreate the order of the moon phases. If using oreos, your child can use a plastic or butter knife to remove enough frosting to replicate the phases

Always Look for the Helpers

“My mother used to say, whenever there would be a real catastrophe that was in the movies or on the air, she would say: ‘Always look for the helpers, there will always be helpers.’ … Because if you look for the helpers, you’ll know that there’s hope.” Mr. Rogers

While I have very fond memories of watching Mr. Rogers as a child, I don’t recall when I originally came across these words of his. Maybe it was during 9/11. I remember standing at the window of my 8th Grade classroom, flanked by two of my students. The kids in the classroom were all processing what was happening in different ways; some were sitting quietly at their desks and some were carrying on as if it were a regular day. (I still recall a particularly humorous child who provided us all with comic relief.)

The two with me reacted differently: one was quiet and anxious and the other was trying to hold back helpless tears and tightened fists. Teachers were never prepared for this – no one was — so I did what I thought seemed right. I stood in silence with them for a bit, walked around and checked in on the quiet ones, chattered along with the others. To this day, I cannot be sure I did the right thing, but I do hope that I held that space for them.

Maybe this quote surfaced during Super Storm Sandy; now I was suddenly without the shelter of my own home. How was I going to hold this space again, for my young child and for my junior high kids, when I was feeling those tears, that rage uncertainty? I had a choice to make. I shared those hard feelings when I needed to during conversations with my family and my close friends. My husband and I counted blessings, we kept close to routine, and we chose to reframe this as a temporary “adventure.” This was a delight to my preschooler and assured my students that we were still good to go. You know what? We had fewer of those hard feelings and more of those blessings!

During this difficult time, acknowledge yourself. Find a person with whom you hold space. Find gratitude for what is working. Do something good for yourself. Reframe this time for your children. Find an appropriate online casino at Connect. Allow. Laugh.

You’re a helper now.

-Cary Anne Fitzgerald, Parent Community Outreach Coordinator

Thanks to Queens North Regional Coordinator Kristin Malone for sharing this resource on talking to children about Covid-19.


Webinar: Transitioning to Distance Learning

As we transition to distance learning, we have to accept that a little help is needed.

This is in regards to managing, establishing routines, being disciplined and navigating through all of the online platforms with little to no problems. The National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) has organized a free webinar to help you master the key elements of being a homeschool parent. The webinar is on Tuesday, March 24, at 12 PM. It is open to parents, educators, administrators, caregivers or anyone who needs some practical help at this time.

Click to Register Now! | Learn More

New Broadcast Schedule of Masses

The Diocese of Brooklyn’s cable channel, NET-TV, will be broadcasting more services on Sundays and during the week. These services, in multiple languages, started on Sunday, March 22.

NET-TV is broadcast in the New York City area on Spectrum (Channel 97), Optimum (Channel 30), and Verizon FIOS (Channel 48). Go to to watch online and to see a complete schedule of mass times and languages.

Please join us in the celebration of Holy Mass. We are stronger together even during this time of separation. We will unite in prayer for those who have died or been stricken by the virus. We also pray for all health departments and personnel in their ongoing battle with COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

Letter to Parents From Thomas Chadzutko, Superintendent~Catholic School Support Services

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Dear Parents and Guardians,

For everyone, this has been a challenging week! Adjusting to new routines for you and your children, keeping your family safe and healthy and managing your work-related responsibilities has been difficult. Through it all, you have been able to provide your children with the comfort and safety of your home.

Change is not easy for anyone and the uncertainty of what lies ahead is very daunting for each of us. Know that your Catholic Academy/Parish School Principals, Teachers and Staff are available to assist you during this time. Please continue to keep the lines of communication open between and among them.

Our principals and teachers are committed to provide your child/children with ongoing Catholic education through various digital and distance learning platforms. Making the transition to a new way of teaching and learning is not easy but our dedicated principals and teachers completed this transition within a couple of days! I know that many parents have already communicated their appreciation to the principals and teachers for this new way of teaching and learning. I ask that you continue to express gratitude for all that they are doing!

Parents and guardians are the essential partners in Catholic education. For your partnership, now and always, we are most appreciative!

I ask that you pray the following prayer with your family each day for continued good health and safety:

Holy Virgin of Guadalupe, Queen of the Angels and Mother of the Americas.
We fly to you today as your beloved children.
We ask you to intercede for us with your Son, as you did at the wedding in Cana.

Pray for us, loving Mother, and gain for our nation and world,
and for all our families and loved ones, the protection of your holy angels,
that we may be spared the worst of this illness.

For those already afflicted, we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance.
Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful, wipe away their tears and help them to trust.

In this time of trial and testing, teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind.
Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.

We come to you with confidence, knowing that you truly are our compassionate mother,
health of the sick and cause of our joy.

Shelter us under the mantle of your protection, keep us in the embrace of your arms,
help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus. Amen

May God continue to watch over each of you, your children and family!


Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D.
Superintendent~Catholic School Support Services

New York State Testing Programs Suspended

Due to the ongoing battle with COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa and Interim State Education Commission Shannon Tahoe have decided to suspend the following New York State testing programs for the rest of the school year:

  • New York State Grades 3-8 English Language Arts Test
  • New York State Grades 3-8 Mathematics Test
  • New York State Grade 4 Elementary-Level Science Test
  • New York State Grade 8 Intermediate-Level Science Test
  • New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT) in Grades K-12
  • New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA) for students with severe cognitive disabilities in Grades 3-8 and high school.

They feel it is important to focus on community needs at this time and hope students and educators are staying safe. The NYSED ended its statement by thanking teachers, administrators, school board members, and parents who have gone above and beyond so that students are safe and impacted as little as possible.

Link:

COVID-19: How to Inform and Reassure Your Child

It’s important to keep your children informed about the world around them. With news of the Coronavirus spreading faster each day, children may easily feel confused, worried, and overwhelmed. They may wonder, what’s happening? What is the Coronavirus? How will it affect my family and me?

Don’t leave your children in the dark. Instead, establish and stick to a plan to keep your child up-to-date and aware of the reality of COVID-19 and its effect on both your community and family. Doing so will help ease the anxieties your child may be experiencing as updates on the virus are reported. You will also build a necessary foundation of trust and transparency between you and your child through honesty and communication.

Here are a few ways you can help your child understand and process the Coronavirus and its effects:

Be Strong, Firm, and Unafraid

For many children, the physical and mental effects of a phenomena like contagious disease are completely unprecedented, and they may be for you, as well. It can be easy to absorb misinformation, and few things are more harmful to your child. The first step to speaking with your child about the Coronavirus is to present the facts and correct any misinformation he or she may have learned in the early stages of the virus.

“When we don’t understand something, that leaves us feeling like we don’t know everything we need to know to protect ourselves,” says David Ropeik, a risk communication expert. “That equates to powerlessness, vulnerability.” Remember that in order to truly protect the physical and mental well-being of your children, it’s important to be informed.

Identify and Emphasize Your Child’s Role

Make sure your child understands that he or she can make a big impact by remembering to practice simple healthy habits every day. Remind your child to wash his or her hands thoroughly and for at least 20 seconds (the same amount of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice!).

Other easy ways children can protect themselves and others are to cough into the elbow instead of the hands; use hand sanitizer after coming into contact with frequently touched objects, such as door knobs and handles; and avoid touching the faces of themselves and others.

Ensure Your Child Feels Safe and Reassured

Being kept in the dark about significant, impactful events can leave a child feeling scared and isolated. In times of crisis, it’s all the more important to foster a home environment of compassion, communication, and safety.

Make sure your child understands the risks. According to a report published last month by the Journal of the American Medical Association, “cases in children have been rare.” Reassure your child that by practicing healthy habits and staying up-to-date with news and updates on the virus, he or she will be safe.