Catholic schools make mask wearing optional

Decision left up to parents and guardians whether to mask, vaccinate students

The Catholic Diocese of Peoria said the decision whether a student will wear a mask or will be vaccinated will be left up to the parents or guardians of the students within its schools.

Marquette Academy in Ottawa, St. Michael the Archangel in Streator, Holy Family in Oglesby, Trinity Catholic in La Salle, Peru Catholic and Holy Cross in Mendota all are schools within the diocese.

The Peoria diocese said it the Office of Catholic Schools consulted the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Diocese of Belleville, the Diocese of Joliet, the Diocese of Rockford and the Diocese of Springfield, in addition to reviewing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Illinois Department of Public Health and Illinois State Board of Education in establishing its guidelines.

The CDC recommends the wearing of masks, being vaccinated and other strategies to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19. The CDC also published guidelines July 9 saying if local conditions do not indicate an increase in community transmission levels, school administrators can “remove any of the prevention strategies ... and should remove them one at a time and monitor closely.”

School administrators will regularly consult the Office of Catholic Schools and monitor local conditions. If there are changes that may occur based on this monitoring, the school will communicate these changes to its employees and families.

The diocese’s educational system includes 42 elementary and secondary schools, 9,600 students and 850 teachers.

Derek Barichello

Derek is a Streator High and University of Illinois graduate. He worked at the Albany-Herald in Albany, Ga., and for Sauk Valley Media in Sterling, before returning to his hometown paper. He's now news editor for both the NewsTribune and The Times.