Availability and Use of the campus/grounds at SCL
Many organizations/individuals have been calling to inquire about the availability meeting space and parish grounds for future events, meetings, etc. My first concern is the safety of parishioners of St. Catherine Laboure, and the viability of vitality of our parish and its mission during and beyond the pandemic. Ordinarily we are a busy parish with many moving parts, many groups and organizations, prayer opportunities, faith formation offerings, athletics and many others. During the pandemic we are not able to operate normally, and so must prioritize what must be maintained and protected so that when we emerge from it, we will emerge vital and viable. So sadly, most of what we do is on hold. Of course, we remember that in all of this we are dependent upon God’s Providence to hold us, be with us and empower us.
Please note given the current spike in covid 19 infections, everything remains pretty much in flux now and into the future, given the unknowns about the severity of the pandemic, the upcoming flu season and prudent and compliant observance of hygiene and distancing, and the possibility of lockdown or shutdown being mandated; here is what we know now:
- Use of face covering (mask or face shield) is mandated whenever you are on parish grounds, exceptions would be if you are exercising alone or with small group (2 or 3) while physical distancing, no team sports are allowed, unless organized and sanctioned by our parish athletics, e.g. no pickup basketball or soccer outside. Children 9 or younger are encouraged to use face coverings, and our day school children will spend time outdoors so that they can have a break from wearing masks.
- Gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited for the time being by order of St. Louis County
- The long-term viability of the day school is a top priority. Therefore, the entire school complex (classrooms, gym, cafeteria, parish hall, and parish center) will be single use only for the SCL students at the day school and the parish school of religion. The parish school of religion will offer a hybrid model of faith formation alternating grades 1-4 and grades 5-8 weekly using the school complex. On the off weeks, the students will learn using a virtual format. We will also offer a full-time virtual learning method for families who choose that option. We arrived at this single use decision given the challenges of securing the space so that we can assure teachers and parents it is undisturbed, and the cleaning and disinfecting necessary to ensure safety for the school community is strictly overseen. For example, gym will be closed to athletics for the coming school year since it is now solely dedicated to the school during the pandemic. The use of the Parish Hall and Parish Center by the school is necessitated so that we can create more classrooms (7) in order to fulfill the physical distancing requirements necessary to reopening the school.
- Youth ministry will continue to have limited use of parish facilities
- We need to comply with social distancing guidelines which does not leave much by way of meeting space available. There are two rooms: the room in the basement of the parish office might be available but can accommodate only 8 people max, the room in the basement of the church may be available but can accommodate 10 people max. We also will need to think through and implement cleaning and disinfecting protocols for the use of meeting space. Meetings are possible outdoors if scheduled and which do not conflict with other activities of the parish e.g. weddings and funerals. The day school will be using the outdoors a great deal and so no outdoor meetings could be scheduled during the school day.
Realistically we need to be thinking that most things we ordinarily do, we will not be able to do during this pandemic time. There will be no pancake breakfast, no adult volleyball tournament, no CYC meetings, no divorced and separated meetings, no AA meetings, anything which would involve more than a few people just can’t happen. This is a source of sadness I know, for all of us. We are hopeful that in time, we can return to some sense of “normal” but only time will tell when that may occur. Please stay safe.