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Archdiocese of Baltimore releases new mask mandate for upcoming school year

In low to moderate transmission areas, masking will be left up to parents.
Archdiocese of Baltimore
Posted at 10:40 AM, Aug 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-17 12:22:16-04

MARYLAND — On Monday, The Archdiocese of Baltimore Department of Catholic Schools sent out guidelines on mask usage for the upcoming school year.

According to the release, all archdiocesan Catholic schools operating within a jurisdiction are to follow the case count for the county in which they are domiciled, even if the students live in a different jurisdiction.

The Maryland Coronavirus website tracks daily the average new cases per 100,000 persons in the prior 7 days for all jurisdictions across the State of Maryland.

County transmission levels will be monitored daily and masking changes, if warranted, will be implemented at the beginning of each school week. Families will be notified on Sunday evening of the school’s masking status for the week.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore schools will be following the below guidelines:

  • Low to Moderate Transmission (Less than 7.1 new cases per 100,000 persons in the prior 7 days) - Parental choice as to whether their children will wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status
  • Substantial to High Transmission (Greater than 7.1/14.2 new cases per 100,000 persons in the prior 7 days) - All adults and students are mandated to mask in school facilities regardless of vaccination status

In addition to what's above, The Archdiocese of Baltimore will also be abiding by the following guidelines:

  • State of Maryland and/or a local jurisdiction/health department’s order (not a recommendation) regarding masking supersedes this guidance.
  • Every school will record any new COVID-19 cases and will record absences on a daily basis. The Department of Catholic Schools and the Office of Risk Management will monitor any outbreak of COVID-19 or Influenza cases and, if needed, implement more stringent mitigation efforts - including mandatory masking – to provide a safe learning environment for our students, faculty and staff.
  • School facilities will continue to operate at 3 feet social distancing where possible in the classroom.  Classroom cohorts are encouraged, but will no longer be mandated.
  • Masks will not be required for outdoor activities or while students are eating in the cafeteria. Students will eat lunch with their class.
  • Field trips can resume. Facemasks must be worn by all people on public transportation conveyances including public and private school buses.
  • Ongoing sanitization of school facilities and hand hygiene practices will be required to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, RSV infections, and Influenza.
  • Schools, where possible, will have COVID-19 diagnostic and surveillance / screening testing capability to test students, faculty and staff. Surveillance testing is voluntary but encouraged for unvaccinated individuals as a strategy layer to mitigate risk of virus transmission.
  • Vaccinations are a personal choice; however, we strongly encourage our school community to get vaccinated to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 and Influenza.
  • CDC/MDH quarantining guidance for COVID-19 positive cases and close contacts will continue to be observed.