Parents and students held a rally outside Queen of Martyrs in Evergreen Park to support principal Doc Mathius, who is on leave after speaking out against mandatory wearing of masks in the school.
“I want the focus to be on the kids not me,” he told NBC 5 in a phone interview. “I happen to be the guy that was in charge that made this call.”
Mathius spoke out against the Archdiocese of Chicago’s policy on masking, and has since been placed on paid administrative leave. He sent a letter to parents on Monday letting them know that masking will be optional for students and staff at the private Catholic school and believes it was the right decision to make.
“It’s how these mandates are starting to negatively affect the kids, and I see that everyday in my building,” he said.
Citing concern for their mental health and well-being, he said he could no longer sit back and watch.
“It’s breaking my heart,” he said. “I’ve had enough of it. That’s all. It was I just had enough of it and I had to do something in my own way.”
Mathius joined Queen of Martyrs in 2020 after serving more than 40 years at Brother Rice.
Mathius said he has cried and prayed over his decision. He says he wants parents to have an option to decide what’s best for their children, even if it means losing his job.
“I’m willing to pay that price to at least bring this issue to the forefront,” he said.
He’s grateful for the support from the community and said his decision was a difficult one to make.
“I know there are people who are going to try to make a political volleyball out of this, it’s nonsense,” he said. “It’s way beyond the politics now. It’s the health and safety and the well-being of our kids.”
A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Chicago told NBC 5 in a statement they do not comment on personnel issues. Masking is still required in all Archdiocese schools.
The spokesperson told NBC 5 students who refuse to wear a mask at school will have to be isolated in a separate room until parents can pick them up. If not, they’ll have to stay in that room until dismissal.