Local News

Catholic Diocese of Rockford not requiring masks in schools

Diocese recently lifted an exemption for Sunday Mass in an effort to return to normal

Parents can decide if their child should wear a mask to Catholic schools in the Diocese of Rockford, according to a letter from the diocese sent to parents last week.

“Fully vaccinated individuals are not required to wear masks,” the letter from Superintendent of Schools Vito DeFrisco and Director of Religious Education and Formation John Jelinek said. “Parents individually determine whether they and their child will wear a mask while attending school or religious education gatherings.”

The letter includes guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including recommendations that anyone who is not fully vaccinated wear a mask.

Schools also will not be asking anyone about their vaccination status and is trusting people to make honest decisions.

“The cooperation and good will of all is presumed in this matter,” according to the letter.

The Diocese of Rockford plans to resume full in-person learning at their schools and religious education programs this fall. Schools in the diocese were mostly in-person last school year but went remote for a period in the winter.

The Diocese of Rockford covers 11 counties, including McHenry, Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Kane, Lee, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside and Winnebago.

Catholic elementary schools in McHenry County include St. Margaret Mary School in Algonquin, SS. Peter & Paul in Cary, St. Thomas the Apostle in Crystal Lake, St. John the Baptist in Johnsburg, Montini in McHenry and St. Mary School in Woodstock. Marian Central Catholic High School in Woodstock is the only Catholic high school in McHenry County.

The Archdiocese of Chicago released guidance for its schools in Lake and Cook counties on Tuesday, announcing students who are fully vaccinated will not have to wear masks. Vaccination status will not be checked.

On July 4, Catholics in the Diocese of Rockford were asked to return to weekly Sunday Mass. Rockord Bishop David Malloy lifted a temporary suspension of the obligation to attend Sunday Mass, which was put in place in March 2020 because of the potential safety effects of large gatherings on public health.

Masks also are not required as Mass in both diocese for those who are fully vaccinated, but vaccination status also is not asked at the churches.

Ben Szalinski

Ben Szalinski

Ben reports on local news in Harvard, Marengo, Huntley and Lake in the Hills along with the McHenry County Board. He graduated from the University of Illinois Springfield Public Affairs Reporting program in 2021. Ben is originally from Mundelein and enjoys outdoor activities and spending time with friends and family.