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Masks still required at Mass

Latest archdiocesan policy encourages full vaccination of employees, eligible students by August

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MIAMI | As of July 7, 2021, mask-wearing and social distancing remain a requirement for gathering in churches “and other (parish) spaces,” according to an updated COVID policy issued by the Archdiocese of Miami.

As of July 7, 2021, groups may meet in person in churches but only with proper social distancing and use of masks.

Photographer: LINDA REEVES | FC

As of July 7, 2021, groups may meet in person in churches but only with proper social distancing and use of masks.

Groups may meet in person in churches but only with proper social distancing and use of masks. At Mass, the sign of peace should continue to be omitted and Communion distributed only under the species of bread.

The updated policy was issued July 7, 2021. It notes that the archdiocese continues to review its COVID-19 protocols weekly with a view toward eliminating them when a county’s “new case positivity rate” declines to 2%.

“Many parents in our schools and parishioners in our parishes are asking when the requirement of masks will be eliminated,” the policy notes. “We had set 2% positivity as the goal, only to see the numbers increase most recently to 3.6%. The most effective measure is to get vaccinated.”

As of July 2, the new case positivity rate for Miami Dade was 3.6%; Broward was 3.9% and Monroe was 5.5%.

The policy adds that, among children younger than 12, who are not eligible for the vaccine, the positivity rate is 5.4%, rising to 6.7% among 12 to 19-year-olds, who are eligible for vaccination. In Miami Dade County, the rate of vaccination for youths 12-17, with their first or both shots, is 37.4%.

“Ideally, the rate should be close to 100% to best protect our children and young adults and re-open schools in August without the COVID requirements of masks and social distance,” the policy states.

It adds: “It is encouraging that even though the number of new cases and the new case positivity rate are both increasing, the number of deaths is decreasing. However, the DELTA variant believed to be more transmissible is becoming more prevalent throughout the US.”

According to the archdiocese, and medical professionals, the quickest path to a return to normalcy is for all those eligible to receive the vaccine.

Photographer: ANA RODRIGUEZ-SOTO | FC

According to the archdiocese, and medical professionals, the quickest path to a return to normalcy is for all those eligible to receive the vaccine.

On May 8, the archdiocese modified its policy to adhere to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control on cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.

“Daily cleaning is sufficient in most areas unless someone who is symptomatic with COVID has been present,” the policy states. “In that case cleaning and disinfecting of the area is required. Additional caution to clean and disinfect high touch areas/surfaces is still required in areas used by small children.”

While generally adhering to CDC guidelines about mask wearing for vaccinated adults, the archdiocesan policy states that they must wear masks even outdoors when students are present; and indoors “when children/students or any other persons that are not fully vaccinated are present in the same room or indoor space.”

For youths and children under 18, mask and social distancing requirements continue through the summer of 2021 as they did during the school year, with the only change being that children are not required to wear masks outdoors “as long as social distancing at a minimum of 6’ apart can be maintained.”

“Some parents may recognize that it is beneficial for their child to use a mask outdoors and that parental decision is to be supported by the staff of the school or parish,” the policy states.

One other change: Effective July 1, health screenings are not required for children in summer sessions at archdiocesan schools or for employees of archdiocesan entities.

“By August 1, it is hoped that the increase in vaccination rate and decrease in positivity rate will allow the ADOM to make the use of masks optional and eliminate the requirement of masks and social distancing in the schools for the coming school year,” the policy states.

It encourages parents to have their children, ages 12 and older, fully vaccinated by the time school re-opens in mid-August. The same applies to parish and school faculty and staff “unless a documented medical condition exists that prohibits vaccination.”

The entire policy can be read and downloaded here. 

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