Aug. 13, 2021 By Allie Griffin
All students, teachers and support staff at Catholic schools in Queens and Brooklyn will be required to wear masks inside school buildings when classes resume next month.
The Diocese of Brooklyn, which covers both Brooklyn and Queens, announced the mask requirement Thursday ahead of the first day of school on Sept. 8.
It comes amid an uptick in COVID-19 cases citywide due to the highly contagious delta variant.
“As the numbers of Coronavirus cases continue to spike in children, and the overall numbers of hospitalizations in New York City are on the rise, this is the most responsible approach to take when we begin the new school year,” Superintendent Dr. Thomas Chadzutko said.
“I know the return to these safety measures is not the situation parents, teachers or students were hoping to be the case in the 2021-2022 school year, but we cannot ignore the trends.”
The announcement follows the recommendations of both the New York State Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which both advise mask use at schools. They also note that children under 12 years old aren’t yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
New York City public schools are also requiring students, educators and staff to wear masks inside when the school year begins.
Chadzutko said the mask requirement could change if the situation improves.
“Let us do our part from day one to prevent further increase of cases,” he said. “If we are successful, as this academic year moves along, we will revisit these guidelines and adjust them accordingly.”
The diocese also encouraged those within the school community who are eligible to get vaccinated do so.
“I have received my vaccination and continue to encourage others to do so as well,” said Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn. “It is our hope that the COVID-19 vaccines will help bring an end to this terrible virus that has controlled our lives for much of the past year and a half.”
Classrooms and other facilities will be cleaned and sanitized daily and will have enhanced ventilation in place.
School officials will continue to promote social distancing and hand washing among students as well.
“As much as we want a return to normalcy in our classrooms, we want our students, faculty, and staff to be safe,” Chadzutko said.
Catholic schools in both Queens and Brooklyn offered five-day-a-week in-person instruction last school year despite the pandemic, while public schools offered a mix of remote and in-person learning.
As a result, 40 percent of Catholic schools in the two boroughs saw an increase in enrollment in grades K through 8, according to the Diocese.