Move comes less than 24 hours after governor’s order closing all public, private and boarding schools in state

DETROIT — Late Thursday evening, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order closing all private, public and boarding schools in the state through April 6 because of COVID-19 concerns, a decision that will also impact the 87 Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

In a late-night letter to pastors and principals, archdiocesan schools superintendent Kevin Kijewski announced all Catholic schools in the archdiocese — both independent and archdiocesan — will be closed to students starting Monday, March 16, until Monday, April 6, or until the governor’s order is lifted.

“As we have maintained at the start of the coronavirus situation, we are committed to following local, state, and federal health and government officials,” Kijewski wrote in a letter to be distributed to parents, teachers and staff Friday. “As a result, we will augment our approach to faithfully execute Governor Whitmer’s order to ensure the safety, health, and welfare of all students and school employees.”

Less than 24 hours earlier, the archdiocese had announced the closure of schools on Friday, March 13, and Monday, March 16, to allow for a deep cleaning and for faculty and staff at schools to consider further options regarding cancellations and curriculum. 

Given the “unprecedented circumstances,” Kijewski wrote, local Catholic schools will be asked to take the following measures:

  • Schools will move their customary Easter break (April 13-17) to the week of March 16-20. Students will not need to report physically or virtually to school at this time.
  • For the week of March 16-20, when school is not in session, instructional staff will report to their schools to prepare distance learning plans
  • During the week of March 16-20, schools will communicate with parents their distance learning plans tailored for their children.
  • Students and instructional staff will begin their distance learning work on Monday, March 23, and will conclude work on Friday, April 3.
  • Provided there is no extension or modification of Gov. Whitmer’s order, students will return to schools April 6-8 followed by two days off for Holy Thursday and Good Friday (April 9 and 10).
  • Students and instructional staff will return on April 13 for their first full week of school.

“Invoking Blessed Solanus Casey's famous phrase, ‘we thank God ahead of time’ for a successful end to the coronavirus situation,” Kijewski wrote. “In addition to exercising prudent judgment during these times, I ask that you join the faithful around the archdiocese in prayer for an end to coronavirus. As Archbishop Vigneron has said, ‘people of prayer are never helpless — never hopeless.’”

Gov. Whitmer’s order comes as the state announced late Thursday it had identified 10 new cases of coronavirus in Michigan, bringing the statewide total to 12. 

For additional updates from the Archdiocese of Detroit, visit aod.org/emergencyresponse.

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