2021-2022 Diocese of Youngstown Catholic Schools Guidelines
The Diocese of Youngstown Catholic Schools are dedicated to providing students and families with an educational experience that nurtures faith, inspires learning, fosters service, and builds leadership.
August 13, 2021
Dear Parents and Guardians,
In our communication dated August 2, 2021, the anticipated protocols for the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year were outlined. The guidance also made clear that circumstances would be monitored and resulting updates would be communicated. Since this was sent out, further information was received.
Our goal is to keep children in school for in person learning, as we believe that best supports growth in our students cognitively, emotionally, and developmentally; and the experience of community helps them to grow spiritually as well.
This communication will address information that families need to know as you make decisions regarding the wearing of masks for your children. While our mask policy for students is not changing at this time, additional information has been released that should be considered by parents as they make the best decision for their child. We are instituting a mask policy for adults who are employed by or at the school during the regular school day.
Masks for Students
Masks are strongly recommended by both the CDC and ODH to be worn indoors for individuals who are not fully vaccinated. Masks may always be worn, and are HIGHLY encouraged at this time. Except in the following instances, masks for students will be voluntary at this time.
- Masks must be worn on the school bus, as it is considered public transportation, thus falling under federal law.
- Masks may be required for a period of time in the event of a school COVID outbreak, or the local health department deems it to be a necessary step due to local circumstances or an exposure.
Ohio Revised Code 3707.11 gives health departments authority to quarantine or isolate. COVID-19 is a Class A, reportable disease for quarantine or isolation. https://codes.ohio.gov/ohio-revised-code/section-3707.11
Thus any directives given to a school by their local health department regarding exposure will be followed.
(See the chart later in this communication. It will be followed.)
Considerations for Student Mask-Wearing In-Doors in the School Building
While we respect the right for a parent to make the mask decision for their child, unless mandated by the health department, we respectfully remind everyone that the decisions we make also may affect others. As you finalize your decision, please consider the following.
- We have no control over what happens outside of our schools. The protocols that were in place in the “outside” world are much more relaxed than last school year, causing us some concern about how to safeguard our unvaccinated children when in our care.
- Parents can monitor their child’s outside contacts except in school. There are immuno-compromised students and adults in our schools. There are many unvaccinated students in our schools. Taking care of the community is a responsibility of all of us and a manifestation of the love we are to give one another.
- Mask-wearing strengthens the protection that other protocols we have in place provide: social distancing, frequent cleaning and sanitation, frequent hand-washing, attention to ventilation, and keeping students home when sick.
- Students who wear a mask to school are less likely to be quarantined if they come into contact with a positive case in a classroom setting. If an unvaccinated student is exposed to COVID-19, and he/she is wearing a mask, that student can remain in-person, participate in extra-curriculars and sports, as long as there are no symptoms.
- While the cases of COVID-19 are still statistically very low in children, they are very real to the families who experience them.
- The collaboration and interaction that is an important part of learning can more easily occur.
- Remote learning will only be utilized if an entire school or portion of a school is mandated to be closed due to COVID. Teachers will of course continue to use Google Classroom and other tools to communicate assignments whenever a student is ill for any reason.
Masks for Adults During School Hours
Since unvaccinated adults can more easily spread the virus, an extra layer of protection for our students is the requirement that adults in the schools during school hours while in the building, including before and aftercare programs, wear a mask or show proof of vaccination.
- All employees in the school
- All visitors and volunteers
The most effective way available now to fight the spread of the virus is vaccination. We strongly encourage families to consult with your health care providers regarding vaccination decisions.
- Currently children ages 12 and up do have an option for the vaccine.
- A fully vaccinated person, including a child 12 and above, is not required to quarantine. While it is not required that proof of vaccination be submitted at this time, proof will need to be shown in order to exempt a person from any required quarantine.
- Vaccinations are morally acceptable in the Catholic Church and have been advocated for by Pope Francis as an act of love and solidarity.
- The areas in the country that are especially exploding with the delta variant that is affecting both adults and children have high numbers of unvaccinated people. The majority of hospitalized people who are seriously ill enough to be hospitalized right now with COVID, even in our area, are people who are not vaccinated.
Updates will continue to be provided by the Office of Catholic Schools and the school administrator as needed.
Sincerely in Christ,
Mary Fiala Superintendent of Schools