FAIRFAX, Va. (WDVM) — This week looks a little different for Catholic schools as they celebrate Catholic Schools Week. Despite the pandemic, school officials are still finding a way to give back.

Nearly 17,000 students across the Diocese attend Catholic schools, and this week the schools are planning special initiatives.

Dr. Joseph Vorbach, the superintendent of Catholic Schools in Arlington said, “What will happen on any particular day of the week is dependent on that school’s schedule. Sometimes they got it ordered for different purposes for different days. We will expect the schools in their own way to celebrate throughout the week.”

School officials said students and teachers will celebrate their faith by having extra prayer services and masses, along with thanking first responders.

“During COVID it’s more difficult to do in-person direct service but at the same time it’s a lot of things you can do to express gratitude in the community for people who have been making extra sacrifices like first responders,” said Vorbach.

Holy Spirit is just one of the many schools that are showing their appreciation not only this week but throughout the school year.

Natalie Evans, assistant principal at Holy Spirit said,
“I found operation gratitude and thought this was a great way for our students to make cards and write letters to first responders, veterans, and deployed military personnel.”

Giving back to others is something Evans said her students have a love for.

“It’s not a huge gesture by any means but it is a important gesture. It’s a heartfelt one and that’s really what I hope the students take away from it” said Evans.

Although service day starts Wednesday, the goal is to show their appreciation through cards, videos, and care packages.

Every day, students will show gratitude for teachers, clergy and staff. Bishop Burbidge also plans on visiting some of the schools on Wednesday to show his appreciation.