Tuesday, November 30, 2021
Ana Rodriguez Soto - Florida Catholic newspaper
MIAMI | Citing continued reduction of COVID-19 transmission in the community, the Archdiocese of Miami will now allow unvaccinated children in all archdiocesan schools to opt out of wearing masks.
The change takes effect Nov. 30, 2021 and requires parents to fill out a form and return it to their child’s school.
The updated policy states: “Effective November 30, 2021, with respect to students not yet fully vaccinated, in light of the reduction in transmission in the community, the ADOM will accept the decision of the student’s parent or legal guardian to opt out of compliance with the policy to wear a mask indoors in the schools.”
This is the latest update to the policy announced Aug. 15, 2021, and subsequently tweaked Oct. 29 and Nov. 15. Initially, it required all students and staff in elementary schools to wear masks, as well as all unvaccinated students in high schools. At the end of October, fully vaccinated teachers and students in seventh and eighth grades were added to the list of those who could remove their masks indoors.
This is the first time the archdiocese is making masks optional for unvaccinated students in its schools. Teachers in grades six or lower continue to be required to wear masks.
The COVID vaccines were approved for ages 16 and older in December 2020. Children ages 12 thru 15 became eligible for the vaccine in May.
Social distancing requirements of at least 3 feet between students in the classroom and 6 feet between students in another other setting, or between students and adults, remain in place.
So do the quarantine requirements for unvaccinated students who do not wear masks and “experience a close contact (as per CDC definition)” with anyone who tests positive for COVID. They must quarantine for seven days and obtain a negative PCR test before returning to school.
“Fully vaccinated students do not need to be quarantined following a close contact but must wear a mask indoors until a negative result is received from PCR test taken 3-5 days after exposure,” the policy states.
It notes that the archdiocese “strongly recommends, as per the CDC guidelines, that the unvaccinated continue to wear facial coverings/masks when indoors.”
The policy also adds that the archdiocese will continue to monitor “the community statistics, the advice of its physician advisors, the guidance of the CDC and County Departments of Health. As community transmission risk changes, the ADOM reserves the right to re-implement the requirement for mask usage in schools for those who are unvaccinated or for all persons regardless of vaccination status.”