Effective March 2, private Catholic schools students and faculty in the New York City Archdiocese will not be enforcing a mask or face covering mandate.
Following an announcement made on Feb. 27 by New York Governor Kathy Hochul lifting the statewide school mask mandate, the Archdiocese said in a statement that they are no longer legally obligated to require students or faculty to wear masks.
“We will encourage the continued use of masks but will respect the choice of each parent and staff member,” said Michael J. Deegan, Superintendent of Schools for Archdiocese of New York. “As part of our Catholic values infusion program, students learn we all have a moral responsibility for the good of all and must have respect for everyone. As a school community, we must respect each other’s decisions but remain united as a community of faith. This transition is a truly teachable moment for our children.”
While the Archdiocese maintained that they would continue to encourage members of the Catholic school community to wear masks, it was no longer a necessary requirement to attend school, however New York City-funded Pre-K-3 and Pre-K-4 programs (UPK) must continue to wear masks as required by the New York City Department of Education.
Schools within the NYC Archdiocese will continue to be maintained and sanitized in order to continue to combat the spread of the virus. These mitigation techniques include daily checklists, temperature checks, social distancing, improved ventilation in its schools: installing exhaust fans in each classroom, adding HEPA filtration units, and increasing disinfection and sanitizing.
According to the statement, nearly all positive cases of COVID within the school community have been brought in from non-school affiliated events. Based on their contact tracing, the Archdiocese says that positive infections within the school system remain at .002%.
Currently, there is no vaccine mandate within NYC Catholic schools although students and faculty members are encouraged to receive them.
The Diocese of Brooklyn issued a letter on Feb. 28 acknowledging the Archdiocese’s decision to lift their mask mandate, saying they would follow suit.
“Beginning September 2020, the Catholic Academies and Parish Schools of the Diocese of Brooklyn have been compliant with the COVID-19 health and safety guidelines of both the NYS DOH and NYC DOH,” a letter from Diocesan schools’ officials sent to parents stated. “The Catholic Academy and Parish School communities working together successfully keep their schools safely open for in person instruction by implementing a layered approach of multiple preventive mitigation strategies. No individual, faculty, staff, or student will be discouraged from wearing a face covering at school and face coverings will remain a recommended mitigation strategy.”