August 25, 2021
When Archdiocese of Philadelphia school students and teachers return to the classroom next month for the upcoming academic year, masks will be required once again.
The Archdiocese's COVID-19 mask mandate will be in place for a second-straight year for all school students, teachers, staff and visitors. The requirement will apply to all of the Archdiocese's elementary, secondary and special education schools in Philadelphia and suburban counties.
The Archdiocese will regularly reevaluate its mask mandate based upon local COVID-19 transmission levels. The entire Philly region is currently experiencing high levels of COVID-19 transmission, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, as the spread of the highly-contagious delta variant has led to an uptick in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations.
Archdiocesan schools are planning to conduct full-time, in-person learning for a second-straight academic year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Face masks were required to be worn in school buildings last year, also.
The Archdiocese is not requiring school teachers and staff to be fully vaccinated when classes resume in September, the Inquirer reported.
But all Philly Catholics, including Archdiocesan employees, have been strongly recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine unless they have a medical exemption. The Archdiocese has also instructed its priests to not help parishioners with seeking religious exemptions, saying that the vaccines are "morally acceptable," CBS3 reported.
The School District of Philadelphia is requiring all teachers and students to wear masks when the upcoming academic year gets underway next week. All city school district staff must also be fully vaccinated.
When the CDC released updated mask-wearing recommendations for all Americans in July, the public health agency urged anyone entering a school building to wear a mask. The American Academy of Pediatrics has also recommended the wearing of masks by all students, teachers and staff in schools this upcoming academic year.
Philly reimplemented its indoor mask mandate for public settings earlier this month. Businesses and public indoor spaces that can verify that everyone, including staff and customers, is fully vaccinated are exempt from the requirement. Masks also are now required for unseated, outdoor gatherings of more than 1,000 people.