Secretary Letter to Catholic School Parents: Update on Masking Policy in DC Schools

Dear Parents and Guardians,

The health and safety of the young people entrusted to our care, as well as that of our staff, are of the highest priority in the schools of The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington (ADW). This has been no less true amid the COVID pandemic, during which the ADW has sought to carefully balance the interests of both student health and effective learning. Many area schools went virtual during the 2020-21 school year, and some jurisdictions sought to require us to remain solely virtual as well. We made every effort to keep our Catholic schools open for in-person learning, beginning in September 2020 and carrying through this school year.

The ADW has continued to monitor the guidance of public health authorities and the data as we assess the right time to transition to optional masking in our schools. A growing consensus of experts and stakeholders, both locally and across the country, have determined that it is now safe to eliminate mask mandates for schools. This includes some public health experts who previously advocated for mandated masking. The remaining localities with indoor mask mandates have also begun to announce plans to lift those requirements in most indoor settings. Over the past several months, substantial numbers of people have been vaccinated, including younger children, and our schools in Maryland and the District of Columbia are in one of the most highly vaccinated areas of the country. Case numbers have also been steadily dropping locally over the past month in the wake of the delta and omicron variants.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington lifted the mask mandate on February 21, 2022 in Maryland.  Following Mayor Bowser’s recent communication making mask mandates a local decision, Archdiocesan Catholic Schools in the District of Columbia will no longer require face coverings for students, staff, or visitors beginning March, 9, 2022. Depending on the needs of each school’s leaders to prepare, schools will transition between March 9 and March 14. We appreciate and will fully support whatever decisions that parents make for their own children regarding whether to wear a face covering in school or not. Enforcement of this decision is between parent and child, not school personnel.

Looking Ahead

ADW Catholic schools will continue to monitor local conditions and implement prudent safeguards and mitigation strategies as we strive to provide safe, in-person instruction. If a major spike in cases or a serious variant emerges, government authorities may reinstitute a face covering requirement. As we have done previously, we will consult with medical experts and public health officials for guidance. All Archdiocesan schools will continue to adhere to applicable public health guidance for individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and those who have been exposed.

Let us remain persistent in our prayers that the virus will continue to recede and our schools will return to pre-pandemic normalcy. I cannot thank you enough for your support to our school leaders and teachers throughout the pandemic. Our family-school partnership is a hallmark of our Catholic school community, which I am proud to lead. May God bless you and your families.

Peace of Christ,
Kelly Branaman
Secretary for Catholic Schools Superintendent of Schools