Some parents upset with optional masking at Midstate Catholic schools

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Some parochial school parents are not happy with the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg and their plan to protect kids from COVID-19.

The Diocese plans what they call a “total reopening for all students and staff.”

There will be no mask requirement, no vaccine requirement and students must attend in person unless they have a medically documented reason.

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One year ago, students and staff at Saint Patrick School in Carlisle were masked up. But this year, parents are concerned they’re not being required, as covid cases surge across the commonwealth.

Several parents reached out to abc27 wanting the policy changed, but for fear of retaliation, no one wanted to talk on camera.

One parent sent us this statement: “I realize there is no way to make everyone happy, but there is a way to protect children and that is all that should matter. Science shows us that masks work and both the CDC and Academy of Pediatrics have said Masks should be mandatory in schools regardless of vaccination status. As a medical provider, I have had patients suffer long-term effects and die as a result of covid 19. It is time to do the right thing and protect our children with the tools we have…masks”

After abc27 reached out Friday morning, the Diocese updated its health and safety plan, adding “In order to respond to pertinent data or health situations in a particular school, further mitigation strategies, including masks could be used for a designated period of time.”

Another thing that worries some parents is that the only option for virtual learning is if you have a documented medical need, but that doesn’t include siblings in their household.

In a statement, the Diocese said “The health and wellbeing of our staff members and students is a top priority in our Catholic schools, and we also support a parent’s right to choose whether or not their child wears a mask. Our school reopening committee, which includes expert epidemiologists, is continually monitoring the COVID-19 situation.”

That re-opening committee will watch the data weekly and decide if anything needs to be changed for the next week.

Just like last year, parents will sign an acknowledgment form that they have reviewed the health and safety plan and understand the risks associated with COVID-19. Some parents say that is just excusing the diocese from liability.

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