Noticias de la Diócesis de Allentown

Virus Surge Means Planned Change in School Mask Policy Is On Hold

Masks will continue to be required in diocesan schools because of the surge in Coronavirus cases, and the previously announced plan to switch to a mask-optional policy is now on hold.

Dr. Philip Fromuth, Superintendent of Catholic Education, provided the information to parents in a letter yesterday afternoon (1/3).

In mid-December, Dr. Fromuth had announced to parents that as of January 10, schools would move to a policy of masks optional and strongly encouraged, but not required.

In that letter, he said school leaders would continue to monitor the situation in schools and in communities throughout the five-county Diocese, and they might make changes as needed in the future.

“I know that this is a change from our plans announced in December,” Dr. Fromuth wrote. “We took into consideration the surge of the COVID-19 virus in our community, particularly the omicron variant over the last few weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases in our schools prior to the Christmas break, along with the number of cases reported from our schools over the Christmas break and since returning today.

“We must be responsive to the most current information available and prioritize keeping our students and staff safe and safeguard in-person instruction,” he wrote. “These two principles drive our decisions around our COVID-19 protocols.”

Other virus mitigation measures will remain in place in schools, including social distancing, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting, quarantine protocols when needed, and contact tracing after any positive cases.

“With the assistance and support of each of you, we have been able to keep our students in school for in-person instruction, limit the number of quarantines, and keep our students and staff safe,” Dr. Fromuth wrote. “As we begin the New Year with the increasing number of cases, it is important that we all remain vigilant and following the existing proposals.

“As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will continue to review and revise our mitigation strategies given the available information, always focusing on keeping our schools both safe and open.”