Mask Protocols and COVID Guidance from the Archdiocese
This morning (August 24), the Chicago Archdiocese COVID Task Force issued a guidance letter to Pastors and Principals containing the following information…
Over the past 18 months, your efforts to communicate clearly and quickly all COVID-related guidance has been central to ensuring parish and schools are open to serve the people of God. This commitment to communication remains critical. With this in mind, we want to acknowledge the present challenges and offer a recommendation.
We know the required use of masks can create tension and polarization within some parish and school communities. However:
- The requirement that masks be worn indoors within all archdiocesan schools is based on the governor’s Aug. 4 Executive Order.
- The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) will revoke the recognition status of any school – public, private, or parochial – that violates the mandate.
- Loss of recognition would prevent students from participating in the state’s Tax Credit Scholarship program, affect the status of diplomas for high school graduates and prevent schools from participating in Illinois high school and elementary school association athletic competitions.
- We have already seen this happen to some schools within the past few weeks.
- The requirement that masks be worn indoors in our parishes and churches within the City of Chicago and Suburban Cook County is based on the mandates from the public health officials in those jurisdictions.
- In both instances, it is the right thing to do to provide safe learning and worshipping environments.
It is critical for the health, both physical and spiritual, of the parish and school communities that the Pastor and Principal support each other and be united in sharing these points. We encourage clear, transparent communication with all staff and families on the rationale and specifics of our protocols. With this in mind:
- Ensure the protocols and rationale provided by the archdiocese are clearly stated on your parish/school website and cited in bulletins, backpack mail, etc.
- Provide staff and families with a means to share questions and concerns – maintain the same channels you have used throughout the pandemic.
- In your communications, underscore the following:
- We must comply with the governor’s executive order and local public health department mandates.
- By complying we will avoid our schools losing accreditation of standing with ISBE or IHSA.
- Our priority remains the safety of all God’s People, which is why we align our guidelines – including the use of masks – with the current guidance of our public health authorities. As their guidance changes, so must ours.
Again, thank you for your commitment to clear and timely communications, and your efforts to remain united in leading your parish and school communities through the pandemic.
COVID Task ForceTags: #archchicago, #archdioceseofchicago, #covid19, #covidtaskforce, #olwparish, #olwschool