Area private schools work on reopening plans

In-person and online options will be offered

April Helms
Kent Weeklies
Bennett Roubic, a second grader at Seton Catholic School in Hudson, sits at a desk behind a partition. The desks will all have partitions as a safety measure against the novel coronavirus, which shuttered school buildings this past March.

As a new school year approaches, schools across the nation are attempting to come up with various models for opening during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many area private schools plan to offer online options, along with a return to in-building learning.

Patricia Fritz, director of communications and admissions at Seton Catholic School in Hudson, said the school has plans for in-person instruction at the school for all of its students, kindergarten through eighth grade, with an online option. The online option also would be used if there was another mandate to close the buildings. In mid-March, the state ordered school buildings shuttered to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Options for Seton students include being in school daily with safety protocols, and daily distance learning. The first day of school for students is Aug. 26.

Fritz said she anticipated there would be additional costs incurred by the school due to the safety measures needed because of the pandemic, such as hand sanitizer stations installed throughout the buildings, and adding desktop partitions. An exact figure on costs was not available as of press time. She added that enrollment “is about the same” as it was last year.

“Parents have been extremely supportive and collaborative as we all work together during these unprecedented and challenging times,” Fritz said.

Karen Alestock, principal at Seton, said the school’s reopening plan “is aligned with current recommendations of the Ohio Department of Health.”

“Our Seton Planning Team has reviewed documents, policies, and procedures recommended by the CDC, Ohio Department of Education, and Diocese of Cleveland,” Alestock said. “Providing in-person on campus teaching and learning, as well as a distance learning option, will ensure that academic excellence will continue for our students.”

Alestock said that the school’s families “gave us wonderful input and suggestions gathered from a parent survey sent in early June.

“Their partnership — along with the guidance of experts in the fields of health care, education, business, science and technology — formed the design for our Seton Reopening Plan,” Alestock said.

Erin Faetanini, the principal at St. Barnabas in Northfield Center, said July 6 the school’s reopening task force “is still hammering out a few final details before announcing our plan for return to school.”

However, she added that the tentative plan was to have the school’s students return five days a week, with a remote option offered. The school’s kindergarteners through eighth graders are scheduled to begin Aug. 19, and its preschool and prekindergarten students are scheduled to begin Aug. 31.

“Our enrollment numbers have actually increased,” Faetanini said. “We have introduced a number of incentives to thank our existing families as well as to welcome any new family who wishes to experience the St. Barnabas difference firsthand.”

Returning families with preschoolers and prekindergarteners will get a 25% reduction in tuition, which is “the amount of school we felt that they did not receive due to the COVID shut down in the spring,” Faetanini said. In addition, prekindergarten families will get a $500 rebate. All new and returning kindergarteners will pay a flat rate of $2,700, as will new families with first through eighth graders. Current families will not need to pay a registration fee, and tuition will be the same as the 2019-20 rate.

“Parents are excited to have their children return to school,” Faetanini said. “Our staff is ready and prepared to deliver both in person and distance learning.”

Heather Hawk Frank, the principal of Holy Family School in Stow, said that as of July 7, the school’s plans were preliminary.

“We do plan to return this fall and follow our school schedule as approved by the Diocese of Cleveland,” said Hawk Frank. “At this point, we plan to return in person with the option for families to learn from home.”

As of July 7, the enrollment is the same as last year, Hawk Frank said. The school will use the same tuition plan as it did in January.

The school teaches prekindergarten through eighth grade. According to information from the school’s website, the first day of school for students is Aug. 19.

Reporter April Helms can be reached at