Local Catholic high school reopens COVID-free

Maryland

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — A local high school in Hagerstown has been open for in-person learning since August with no outbreaks of COVID-19.

For some students at Saint Maria Goretti Catholic High School, this school year started like any other despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Tom Burnford, the Interim President of the school, explained that the school opened and has successfully conducted in-person learning for almost a full school year. He stated that the constant and stable communication between school staff and families has greatly contributed to the success of the school year thus far.

“We stay close to our families and to our students. They communicate with us when there’s been any potential exposure and we work with the health department to keep everybody safe,” Dr. Burnford stated.

The school has reported no cases of COVID-19 or even transmission within the school. The administration has mandated masks, enforced social distancing, and decreased high-touch points across the campus.

Gillian Austin is a music teacher at the high school. While she is glad to be back in the classroom, she misses music flowing through the halls of the school.

“I was nervous at first. There were a lot of unknowns,” Austin explained. “But as we got into the school year, protocols were enforced, I felt safe. And this is where the students need to be to learn effectively.”

While 16 percent of the students at Saint Maria Goretti Catholic High School are still learning virtually, others are glad to have been in the classroom. Maddie Boothe is a junior and was ready to be back with her peers in the fall. She explained that like many students, she learns better in the classroom as opposed to online.

“I do have a lot of friends that go to public school, and they’ve expressed to me how I’m very lucky. I’m grateful for the experience of being in person,” Boothe said. “I do feel bad that some of them have to spend their senior or junior year online.”

Boothe also highlighted that the staff and faculty at Goretti made the transition back to in-person learning very smooth. She said that she wasn’t scared to come back because she knew that the protocols would be enforced.

The school also reported that a majority of their staff have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine with many already fully vaccinated.

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