ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A wave of public school districts across Florida has recently been mandating masks due to the rise of COVID-19 cases among students and staff. Now, the Diocese of St. Petersburg says catholic schools within its five counties will do the same.
Schools have been experiencing extremely high rates of COVID-19 cases - to the point that school-aged children make up 25 percent of new cases, the diocese says. The church adds that in just the first two weeks of school, there have been continuous disruptions to classes due to students and employees becoming ill and needing to quarantine.
Beginning Monday, Aug. 30, all employees, visitors and students age 4 to 12 grade wear face coverings while indoors on campus, regardless of vaccination status. A medical opt-out is allowed, but it must be signed by a health care provider with the reason why.
The policy will be in place until the new case rate is below 100 per 100,000 people and if a county's positivity rate drops below 10 percent.
"Our main goal continues to be keeping our educational communities safe and keeping our schools open," the Diocese of St. Petersburg says. "This action will help decrease virus transmission and reduce the number of students and staff members subject to mandatory quarantines."