CHICAGO — Masks will be optional in some suburban Catholic schools starting Thursday, officials announced late Tuesday.
The mask mandate will be lifted for Catholic schools in Lake County and suburban Cook County, but not in Chicago, Evanston or Oak Park where health departments require masks, according to a letter from Greg Richmond, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago.
The new rules were announced on the same day a principal at Queen of Martyrs in suburban Evergreen Park was removed for telling school families that masks at the elementary school would be optional starting Tuesday. The archdiocese put him on administrative leave.
In the letter, Richmond said Catholic schools overseen by the archdiocese have been a dramatic decrease in cases over the last few weeks.
“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. In fact, nearly half of our schools are reporting no cases at all,” he wrote.
After Queen of Martyrs Principal M. Jacob “Doc” Mathius was put on administrative leave Tuesday for lifting the school’s mask mandate, more than 100 parents and kids rallied at the school, 3550 W. 103rd St., to protest the principal’s ousting. The school is located in suburban Evergreen Park but serves many Chicago families.
School districts statewide have been reconsidering their mask mandate policies following a state judge’s ruling against such mandates in public schools. Private institutions like Catholic schools can still have mask mandates independent of the ruling, but some dioceses in the state have announced the end of their mask requirements, according to the National Catholic Register.
Catholic schools in Belleville, Rockford and Springfield have announced masks will be optional, the news agency reported. Joliet Catholic schools have moved to a policy of masks required to masks “recommended,” according to CBS2.