Masks will no longer be required in the upcoming academic year for students who have received the COVID-19 vaccine, the Chicago Archdiocese announced Monday.
The archdiocese said students and staff should make a "near-normal, pre-pandemic" return to school, while maintaining health protocols based on the guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Illinois Department of Public Health.
According to a letter sent to Chicago Archdiocese families, school masses and all extracurricular activities, athletics and field trips will resume in the upcoming year, as well as before and after-care programs.
There will no longer be cohorts, the archdiocese said, though classrooms will use a seating chart that provides the ability to quarantine should a student be exposed to COVID-19.
Students who have been vaccinated will not have to wear a face covering, the letter said, but guidance for unvaccinated individuals will be released in early August.
Classrooms and activities will be arranged to maintain three feet of distance while indoors, where possible, according to the letter. Students who experience COVID-like symptoms will be required to stay home from school.
After a year that saw services move online after churches were forced to close and then later reopen with limited capacity and major restrictions, the Archdiocese announced all masses, liturgies, sacramental celebrations, parish and school events can resume to 100% capacity.
Vaccinated people can also enter without masks and don’t have to show proof of inoculations, the church said. Masks are still recommended for unvaccinated children and adults during mass, although their vaccination status will not be checked.
The only exception to the mask rule “is a priest or deacon celebrating infant baptism. He should continue to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status when he is close to the infant’s nose and mouth to protect the health of the infant,” officials said.
Singing inside, which was identified early on as a high-risk activity, is allowed again.
“Choirs, congregational singing, oral responses, and the use of worship aids, envelopes and bulletins may be fully resumed,” officials said in a statement.
Other changes include:
- Receiving Holy Communion on the tongue may resume, however, receiving Holy Communion from the cup remains suspended.
- The Sign of Peace can be restored in whatever form is comfortable for those at Mass.
- Choirs, congregational singing, oral responses and the use of worship aids, envelopes and bulletins may be fully resumed.