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Archdiocese of Baltimore Leaves School Mask Policy Up To Parents, Jurisdictions In Low Transmission Areas

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The Archdiocese of Baltimore is not setting a universal policy about wearing masks in its Catholic schools for this school year, leaving it up to parents and the jurisdictions where the schools are based if transmission rates are low to moderate.

"All archdiocesan Catholic schools operating within a jurisdiction are to follow the case count for the county in which they are domiciled, even if students may live in a different jurisdiction. County transmission levels will be monitored daily and masking changes, if warranted, will be implemented at the beginning of each school week. Families will be notified on Sunday evening of the school's masking status for the week," the Archdiocese of Baltimore Opening Guidance to Parents and Guardians, a document the archdiocese published states.

In areas with low to moderate transmission - that is, fewer than 7.1 new cases per 100,000 persons in the previous seven days - parents will decide if their children wear masks, regardless of the children's vaccination status, according to the document.

Teachers will not be required to be the enforcer of such requests, the document states.

In areas with substantial or high transmission - that is, more than 7.1 for substantial and 14.2 for high new cases per 100,000 persons in the previous seven days - all adults and students will be required to wear masks in schools regardless of vaccination status until the case count per 100,000 persons falls below 7.1 cases.

If the city or county requires masks in its public buildings, the schools are to follow that policy.

Schools also must record any new COVID-19 cases and absences on a daily basis. Additionally, schools must adhere to three feet social distancing in the classroom when possible.

Masks will not be required for outdoor activities or when eating in the cafeteria, and students will eat with their class.

Schools will be sanitized and hand sanitizer or washing will be required.

While vaccinations are a personal choice, the document said, "We strongly encourage our school community to get vaccinated to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 and influenza."

The archdiocese has schools of all grade levels in nine counties.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department's website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ's coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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