By Dr. Erin Barisano, Superintendent, OC Catholic Schools     9/23/2020


As we celebrate the first week of fall, we also celebrate a return to in-person instruction at our OC Catholic Schools. On Sept. 8 students from preschool through grade 6 returned to school campuses after being away for nearly 6 months. There was much joy and hope as our children returned to the comfort zone of the schools that they know and love. Permission to return to in-person instruction was granted to OC Catholic Schools through the state waiver process. The Department of Catholic Schools guided and facilitated the application process, but ultimately, it was the principals who created stellar campus re-opening plans for their individual schools. On Sept. 22, students in grades 7-12 were allowed to return to in-person instruction as well. After a long run of distance learning, it is wonderful to have teachers and students back on our OC Catholic School campuses. 

For the most part, principals felt that the time spent on preparations throughout the summer paid off, as parents were appreciative of the safety protocols. Students proved to be resilient and cooperative as they quickly adapted to the new COVID rules. Both principals and teachers have expressed how happy they are to be back on campus and even though there are underlying stressors with so many new demands and expectations, the joy of seeing children back on campus has proved to override any fear and anxiety. 

One of the most important lessons that we have learned throughout this journey is to be patient with one another and with ourselves. Offering the gift of grace to oneself and others will help us navigate this extraordinary year. We also recognize that we have so much for which we are thankful, which is why our theme for this school year is Grace and Gratitude.  

Dr. Leonard DeLorenzo wrote, “Grace presents its own terms and provides its own light.  The challenge is to learn to see along this light.” This message was shared at our Educator Convocation two years ago, and this message seems even more poignant and relevant as we navigate our return to campuses. As we continue to test our endurance with this pandemic, we recognize that there are lessons to be learned in this moment and that there is grace in expressing gratitude.  

We are so grateful to our parents for their patience and courageous caring of their children. Their continued belief in the value of a Catholic education is so vital in times like these.  

We are grateful to our teachers and staff who have been amazing instruments of God’s grace to our students and families. They are true examples of servant leadership for our children.  

We are extremely grateful for the courageous and faith-filled leadership of our principals as they planned and prepared all summer long. Their dedication to our school communities during these past months has been nothing short of inspiring. Thank you for leading with grace, conviction and collaboration.  

Finally, we cannot be more grateful to our bishops and pastors for their prayers and ongoing support of our Catholic schools. They have made Catholic education a priority in our diocese and kept us focused on Christ during good and bad weather. Thank you for shepherding us.  

Through expressions of gratitude, we have experienced moments of grace throughout this pandemic, and with our students back on campus, these moments of grace will continue to fuel our journey.   

During this extraordinary school year, may we all strive to recognize the blessings that surround us and see along the light of God’s grace.