Archdiocese of Miami’s Catholic schools to require unvaccinated students to wear face masks

MIRAMAR, Fla. – The Archdiocese of Miami’s Catholic schools will be requiring face masks for those who have not been vaccinated against COVID during the beginning of the 2021-22 school year.

Unvaccinated students don’t have to wear face masks when they are outdoors, playing sports, or eating. This includes children under 12 who are not yet eligible for the vaccine. Those who are vaccinated and are able to provide proof have the option to wear or not to wear a face mask.

“We believe this is the right policy for us given the current state of the pandemic,” said Jim Rigg, the new cabinet secretary of education and superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Miami. “Our Catholic Church has a consistent ethic of human life. We believe that we have to take safety seriously in our schools.”

The schools will also be encouraging social distancing and will have plexiglass dividers in the classroom. Archdiocesan principals received the new policy on Thursday and Rigg met with them to discuss it on Friday at the Pastoral Center.

“The situation is worse now than it was last summer when we didn’t have a vaccine,” Elizabeth Worley, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Augustine and the archdiocesan chancellor for administration, told the Florida Catholic newspaper about the urge in COVID cases and her decision to side with medical and scientific findings on the ongoing spread of the delta variant.

The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops reviewed the rules that will apply in South Florida to 47 elementary schools, 12 secondary schools, including four owned by religious orders, and one special needs school. Students also have access to a Catholic virtual school. The schools are preparing to serve more than 30,000 students.

“Vaccinations, masks, social distancing, etc., of course, are not 100% effective but not to attempt to mitigate risks to parishioners and school families would be a failure of pastoral oversight on my part,” Archbishop of Miami Thomas G. Wenski said in a statement Friday.

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About the Authors:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba. 

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.