By Jessica Easthope
As schools in the Brooklyn Diocese began reopening, it was obvious there was no “one size fits all” plan.
Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Academy in Corona, Queens opened under a hybrid model, but with their own spin on it: parents can choose whether or not they want to send their kids into school every 30 days.
“It just accommodates the parents because they’re going back to work, and it’s wonderful, and they know they can bring their kids to school,” said Principal Dr. Cristina Tancredi-Cruz.
The school’s model is a reflection of Corona’s 15 percent unemployment rate. For the parents who are now back at work after being unemployed for months, the only option is to send their kids to school. Right now, about 60 percent are doing in-person learning.
“I’ve delivered food, I’ve gone into my own pocket to get food for a family in need,” said Jeanette Felix, the school’s administrative assistant. “There are still a lot of families in hardship and we want to make sure they can feed their families.”
Parents who opted for in-person learning say they’re breathing a sigh of relief.
“God forbid she gets sick, I have the option to keep her at home and every 30 days I can change it. I can work around my work schedule and still keep her educated,” said Anna Estrella as she dropped her daughter off on Sept. 15.
Kindergarten teacher Stacy Nieves has most of her class in school with her. Though the hybrid model has been challenging , she says she pushes though for the sake of her kids.
“The first thing that we need is patience,” Stacy said. “I make sure my class comes first and my kids are okay and we’ll move on.”
As for the parents who are still helping to teach their kids at home alongside their virtual classes, they’re asking for the same.
“It’s all about having a little more patience and understanding,” said Kathy Duran who keeps her 5-year-old daughter, Sofia, at home.
Kathy’s parents are visiting from the Dominican Republic, which means when Sofia is asked if there are any visitors at home before she’s let into school, she would have to answer yes. She would then be sent home.
Even though teaching her daughter is a lot to take on, Kathy keeps her home for the safety of her family and everyone at school.
“Other schools are doing it – all in or nothing – so they’re doing an excellent play on that because sometimes it doesn’t work out for you, but you have that option of switching it up,” Kathy said.
Our Lady of Sorrows is expecting 80 percent of students to return to school by October 1.