March 1, 2022 By Christian Murray
Catholic Schools in Brooklyn and Queens will no longer be requiring students to wear face masks—both indoors and out–beginning Wednesday.
The announcement came Monday, just one day after Governor Kathy Hochul said that the statewide school mask mandate would be lifted on Wednesday March 2. The state policy, however, still provides municipalities and local authorities with the option to keep the mask requirement in place.
New York City, for instance, doesn’t plan to lift the requirement for public schools until March 7, the mayor said Sunday.
The Diocese of Brooklyn, which oversees schools in Brooklyn and Queens, said that face coverings will become optional—although recommended—for both school personnel and students starting Wednesday.
“We respect all faculty, staff, and parents of differing opinions, and we understand the concern on both sides of the issue,” according to a letter from Diocesan school officials to parents. “No individual, faculty, staff or student will be discouraged from wearing a face covering at school, and face coverings will remain a recommended mitigation strategy.”
However, children who participate in New York City-funded Pre-K-3 and Pre-K-4 programs (UPK) offered at Catholic schools must continue to wear masks as required by the New York City Department of Education.
The schools in the diocese will continue to maintain preventive strategies in order to reduce the spread of the virus. These mitigation techniques include physical distancing; improved ventilation; handwashing; and cleaning and disinfection.
Meanwhile, the Arch Diocese of New York, which covers Catholic schools in the three remaining boroughs and the counties of Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester, said it too was lifting the mask requirement beginning March 2.
The New York diocese also sent out a letter to parents.
“Effective March 2nd, the wearing of a mask by an adult or children in all Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of New York will be recommended but NOT REQUIRED,” wrote Michael J. Deegan, superintendent of schools. “We will encourage the continued use of masks but will respect the choice of each parent and staff member.”