Masks not a must in Diocesan schools

Staff Report

Masks will not be required for students who attend classes in parochial schools within the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge, Bishop Michael Duca said.

His announcement reverses the previous line of protocol released last week that would have required masks in the classroom.

Under the provisions Duca outlined in a follow-up statement last week, masks will be optional and there will be no requirement to prove vaccination status.

In addition, field trips and elementary sports programs will resume.

Daily temperatures checks will be eliminated, while guidance will be reexamined regarding other protocols including quarantine and physical distancing.

Bishop Michael Duca of the Diocese of Baton Rouge

“We will begin the school year in this way,” Duca said. “But I must be upfront that these guidelines are always subject to change, based on the circumstances in our communities related to COVID-10, new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, the Louisiana Department of Education and our experience in the classroom.”

The initial ruling drew outcry from parents.

Duca said the Diocese reconsidered its ruling after the state Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley clarified the department’s return-to school guidelines as being recommendations and not requirements.

“My office has received and heard the concerns of parents – the first teachers of their children – and other concerned members of our communities regarding the difficulties of creating a safe environment for children amid changing variables,” Duca said. “As your bishop, I promise to reevaluate guidelines as necessary for the duration of this health crisis.”

The Diocese operates schools in eight of 11 parishes: Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, St. James, Tangipahoa and West Baton Rouge.