Catholic School Matters

September 7, 2021

Operations Manual

Last week I drew attention to our new policy manual. This week, I’d like to spotlight our new Operations Manual aka the “Elementary School Handbook.” The former are the broad policies, the latter are the procedures. Our hope is that this will not only help you build your own school handbooks but help you solve problems at the local level.

We’ll introduce this manual and answer questions tomorrow (Wed) at our weekly (optional) principal Zoom. For now, this is a living document which will change this fall as we continue to encounter new issues. For example, we have nothing written on how to handle doctor’s notes excusing students from wearing masks. But we do have policies (written and unwritten) about dealing with disabilities. If a student breaks her leg, she could bring a doctor’s note asking her to use the elevator. We must read these notes as requests because, after all, some of our schools are not equipped with elevators.

Coming out of our discussion about policy last week, we’ve been talking about how many Catholic schools hire teachers from fellow Catholic schools in August. This is profoundly disturbing. We should develop a policy that Catholic schools should not hire another teacher under contract because our current practice causes us problems. To reference last week’s metaphor, we should work upstream to solve these problems. This was our hope with the updated Operations Manual.

Blessings on a great opening of school! I'm looking forward to driving Bishop Fisher around the next couple of days to soak in the excitement.

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Dr. Tim Uhl

Office Updates

  1. We would like to collect the names and emails of your Board chairs. Thanks to the 27 schools who have done so. For the others, please fill out this 30 second survey.

  2. Elementary Athletics will start Oct 1st and conclude by November 19. There is a meeting planned for Sep 13 for volleyball coaches, Sept 16th for Athletic Directors, and First Aid/CPR classes are scheduled for Sept 20 & 22. If you have any questions, please call Brian Kiszewski at 716-866-5081. Masks are required inside school buildings so if volleyball practices or games are held at a school, everyone will need to be masked. Outdoor activities and volleyball practices/games held at other sites may not require masks, depending on the site.

  3. Attention principals! Do you have new teachers that were unable to attend the New Teacher Orientation? If so please email their name, grade, and contact information to We want to be sure they receive information about our new teacher zooms this year.

  4. The first draft of this year's School Directory is finished. This will be emailed to you this afternoon along with the link to the recurring Zoom. After today, it will live in the principal portal.

From Kari Buchinger

Tomorrow begins a new school year filled with endless opportunities. In the morning, families will rush to your buildings to drop off their children. Some will have smiles on their faces, and others with tears in their eyes. In those moments, remember that your school families chose your community and your mission to educate their children; their greatest blessing. That responsibility is a lofty one. But, it also can and should be the greatest motivator for teachers and leaders. We have 180 school days to grow, to educate, to worship. We have 180 school days to change the lives of the students entrusted to our care. We have 180 school days to take pride in our Catholic faith and traditions and exemplify that our Catholic schools are where students come alive!

As this new school year begins, this section of Catholic School Matters will move to a monthly instructional theme. This content will help sharpen the instructional lens of leaders and teachers as we continually push ourselves to better serve our students. Next week, we will begin with a month dedicated to core instructional practices, including objective driven instruction, formative assessment, and methodology. Stay tuned!

Future themes include: Balanced Literacy, Best Practices in Math Instruction, Writing Across Content Areas, Integrating our Catholic Faith, Technology in the Classroom

***Attention school leaders and teachers-is there an area of instruction in which you would like to grow? Send me an email it may become one of our monthly themes.

Academic Corner: August 31 August 24 August 11, August 4th

Kari's message to new principals August 5th

Chris Riso, Government Services

Happy new (school) year! There is nothing more exciting than the first day of school. Congratulations for getting through another difficult summer and still finding a way for the students to get an amazing Catholic education.

The NYSDOH put out some updated guidance for school reopening during COVID. There was some good news and some challenging news. First they clarified that while eating, children may sit as close as 3 feet if that is the only way to ensure in-person learning is maintained – this replaces the requirement that children sit 6 feet apart while eating. Second, the NYSDOH now requires all teachers to either be fully vaccinated or else they must be tested for COVID weekly. This new testing mandate falls to your school to implement, either by using your LSL license from last year and the rapid tests you still have or else finding another testing method (pharmacy; personal doctors; local school district?). This testing mandate will be a challenge to set up but please give your best efforts to do so; it sounds like failing to testing unvaccinated teachers could result in a $1,000 per incident fine for your school.

While the warm weather is still with us, I wanted to remind you of the NYS fire drill requirements. NYS Educational Law requires emergency evacuation drills to include the following:

1. The statute requires twelve drills be conducted each school year, four of which must be lock-down drills, the remaining eight are required to be evacuation drills.

2. Eight of the required twelve drills must be completed before December 31st.

See the attached letter for more information and a sample tracking form.

It looks like Governor Hochul has triggered the Hero Act's provisions. We're working through the provisions but you should know that your Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan should be ready.

And finally, Cathryn Harrower will be sending you an email regarding the upcoming NCEA survey. Once you have your Excel spreadsheet you may begin working on many of the sections, but be sure to wait until 9/17/2021 before counting any student data.

Previous posts: August 31 August 24 August 11, August 4

Save the Date!

  1. Weekly principal Zooms at 9:30 am. Email sent separately
  2. Annual Regional School Board meetings Sep 13 & 15, 2-4 pm.
  3. School Visit Schedule
  4. Catechetical Day (morning, 8:30-11:30) October 8th, OLV Basilica


  1. "Principal Task List." This is organized as a living Google Doc by month.
  2. Here's a link to the forms on our website.
  3. New Policy Manual
  4. New Operations Manual

Catholic School Matters

A weekly newsletter of resources to spur enrollment and excellence in our Catholic schools.

Articles for Your Reflection

What I'm Reading

    1. American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West (2018) by Nate Blakeslee
    2. The Long Ships (1954) by Frank Bengtsson

    3. The Street Stops Here: A Year at a Catholic High School in Harlem (2008) by Patrick J. McCloskey

    4. How to Think Like Shakespeare: Lessons from a Renaissance Education (2020) by Scott Newstok

    5. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (2019 edition) by Jim Collins

            Click this link for a full list of my professional reading

            Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

            August 31, 2021 "Swimming Upstream"

            August 24, 2021 "Learning in Community"

            August 11, 2021 "Another COVID Opening"

            August 4, 2021 "Welcome Back"

            For previous newsletters, click this link