ATTLEBORO — Bishop Feehan High School hopes to have a reopening plan by next month, but the 50-year-old co-ed school is already welcoming some incoming students this week, giving new freshmen a head start.
In a video sent out Tuesday, school President Tim Sullivan told members of the Feehan community that the administration hopes to have a procedure worked out by the first week of August and follow that with detailed plans.
While the goal is to have students back in school in person, the safety of all involved is the first priority, Sullivan said.
The problem Feehan faces, however, is that “we have nearly 1,100 kids in a building that’s already tight,” he said, adding that the plan they are trying to develop “marries our strong desire to see our kids and our strong desire to have everybody safe.”
“The best we can do is to stay safe and follow state guidelines,” Sullivan said, adding that the school is keeping parents and faculty in the loop on planning and ‘working very hard.’”
Like the rest of the schools in the area, Feehan closed in mid-March under Gov. Charlie Baker’s emergency order aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
Feehan continued with online distance learning through the school year and postponed or canceled most spring activities, including sports, a senior retreat, senior prom and commencement. Feehan is planning an in-person graduation for the evening of Aug. 5, with a rain date of Aug. 6 at the school’s McGrath Stadium.
This week, Feehan opened its freshmen academy orientation, which will run next week as well, with 130 students in each session.
It will be a good test of some of the concepts the school will be using in reopening, Suillivan said in an email to The Sun Chronicle, including teachers and students in masks, smaller groups and outside time built into the day.
Earlier this month, the Diocese of Fall River announced that area parochial schools, from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, would reopen for in-person learning in the fall, most of them before Labor Day. That will include St. John the Evangelist School in Attleboro, St. Mary’s in Mansfield and St. Mary’s-Sacred Heart in North Attleboro.
Meanwhile, the area’s public schools are still working on opening plans — including remote learning, in-person instruction or some hybrid of both — and are not expected to announce the new protocols until August.