With Coronavirus cases surging, the Diocese of Allentown has determined that the best way to keep students safe and schools open for in-person learning is to require masks when classes begin August 30.
“I recognize that not all parents will agree with this decision,” Dr. Philip Fromuth, Superintendent of Catholic Education, wrote in a letter to parents.
“Personal choice is an important tenet of our Catholic faith,” he said, “and it is always our goal to allow parents, who are the primary educators of their children, to have a choice wherever possible. However, keeping our schools open for in-person learning is important for every student and family.”
If masks were optional, even one positive test result of an unmasked student in a classroom would require all other students who were within 3 to 6 feet of that student for more than 15 minutes to quarantine. With mandatory masks, only that single student would have to stay out of school.
Without masks, even one case of COVID-19 in a classroom may impact multiple families, whether or not their children are wearing masks, Dr. Fromuth said. “School quarantines also increase the disruption for all parents who rely on the school schedule when making their own plans for work and other activities,” he said.
“The spread of disease in our schools puts everyone there at risk,” he wrote, noting that the Delta Variant of the virus is highly contagious, and that the level of community transmission in all five counties of the Diocese is currently high.
He said schools will continue to monitor conditions to determine when the masking requirement can be eased.
“I ask each of you for your support,” Dr. Fromuth wrote to parents. “I firmly believe that we owe it to our students to come together and do our part for a successful start to the school year.”