The Archdiocese of Los Angeles school kids in class

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles announced that its schools throughout the region will resume on-campus instruction this fall following guidance from the California Department of Public Health.

In the wake of government-ordered lockdowns to prevent further spread of the coronavirus, the Archdiocese's 265 schools transitioned to distance learning in March.

"Over the past three months, we've come to appreciate how vital our Catholic schools are to our children," Paul Escala, senior director and superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese, wrote in a letter to the community. "Our campuses serve as centers of love, learning, faith and community. Our goal is to strike a balance between preventing the spread of COVID-19 and providing our students with the education, nutrition, physical activity, and mental health benefits offered through the reopening of Catholic schools."

Each of the schools in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties is expected to customize a plan to meet their respective campus, student, teacher and staff needs. Protocols will include: physical distancing, facial coverings, frequent hand washing, keeping students in class-level cohorts, use of outdoor spaces for instruction, and non-touch temperature checks upon entry, among others measures.

Additional details will be presented to school principals and presidents based on state and county public health guidance and input from school leaders. The nation's largest Catholic school system serves 74,000 students.

"Indeed, we cannot eliminate the risk of COVID-19 in our communities, but we can reduce it by being flexible, consistent and vigilant," Escala wrote. "We must use every tool we have available to ensure our students are in school learning, growing and living in the safest environment possible."

Officials said the Department of Catholic Schools has been working with the state of California and vendors on the procurement of personal protective equipment.

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