Archdiocese of Chicago making masks optional for suburban schools starting Thursday

  • Our Lady of the Wayside School in Arlington Heights is among the Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic schools that will begin operating under a mask-optional policy Thursday.

    Our Lady of the Wayside School in Arlington Heights is among the Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic schools that will begin operating under a mask-optional policy Thursday. Daily Herald File Photo

 
 
Updated 2/9/2022 10:24 PM

The Archdiocese of Chicago will make masks optional for students in most of its suburban Catholic schools beginning today.

Greg Richmond, superintendent of schools for the archdiocese, sent a letter to parents of students late Tuesday night explaining the change and the reasoning behind it.

 

"Currently, we have no classrooms in quarantine anywhere in our archdiocese and we have no schools that have more than 3% of their students currently testing positive," he wrote. "In fact, nearly half of our schools are reporting no cases at all."

At St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights, about 40 students were sent to the gym after walking into the building without masks Monday morning.

The students were told they could don masks and attend classes or go home. Some returned to class, some went home, and several refused to do either and remained in the gym. Administrators later decided to move to remote learning starting Tuesday because of the controversy.

In a message sent to students and parents Wednesday night, officials said St. Viator will follow the archdiocese's mask-optional directive when in-person classes resume Thursday.

The archdiocese educates about 45,000 students in 162 schools in Cook and Lake counties. The policy change applies to all schools except those in places where it's overridden by municipal rules, such as in Chicago, Evanston and Oak Park.

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Richmond wrote that all other protocols would remain in effect, including requirements for students to wear masks when coming out of isolation after a positive test.

"Any staff member or student who wishes to continue to wear a mask in school is encouraged to do so," Richmond wrote.

The dioceses of Joliet and Rockford, which oversee schools in DuPage and Kane counties and McHenry County, respectively, ended their mask requirements for students earlier this week.

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