Optional Masks for St Pius X School
As parents and family of students attending St. Pius X Catholic School, we are grateful for the dedication and perseverance shown by the school administration, teachers, and staff in ensuring a safe and effective learning environment for our children. Since Spring 2020, amid changing and often contradictory guidelines, policy pronouncements, and executive orders from government officials and national and international health bodies, we have witnessed extraordinary efforts by those whom we entrust with our children’s education.
We are mindful of the divisions related to this pandemic which exist in our society and within our own parish community, particularly with respect to the health and education of our children. We believe it is time for such divisions to heal.
The Catholic Church, specifically through Canon Law and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, has consistently recognized the primary role and responsibility of parents to educate their children, including in cooperation with Catholic Schools. This principle has served parents and schools well in practice throughout our lifetimes, until the pandemic. Over the past twenty months, the continuation of, and constant emphasis on, mandatory masking, contact tracing, quarantining, mandatory vaccines, and social distancing has placed a toll on our children’s mental and emotional health and strained once-close ties within our Catholic school community. Indeed, contact tracing protocols, that exceed Indiana Department of Health guidance, are unnecessarily creating anxiety within our children. The cumulative atmosphere is exhausting, demoralizing, and wholly unhealthy for the physical and mental well-being of our children. It is also unsustainable. Yet, no one within the school administration has been able to answer the basic question: when will this end? Moreover, school officials have not provided to parents any goals or metrics that would bring an end, much less a reduction, to ongoing Covid protocols.
We do not dispute the serious effects Covid-19 may have on some individuals, but numerous studies throughout the pandemic have found that children are generally at low risk of serious illness from Covid-19 and its variants. Indeed, the CDC recently placed the risk of death in children under the age of 17 in the State of Indiana at .092%. Yet in spite of this extremely low risk, since Spring 2020, the default position has moved from a balanced and reasonable approach that recognizes parental rights and the inevitability of childhood illnesses to one that has little tolerance for risk and overrides parental judgments in favor of unilateral decisions by the school’s Covid Response Team. We believe the divisions which are tearing apart our parish community will only heal if we return to well-founded principles--reaffirming the primary role and responsibility of parents to educate, and ensure the health and safety of, their children in the manner they believe is best suited for their families and allowing each family to exercise their own judgment, particularly with respect to the use of masks and Covid-19 vaccinations.
Accordingly, we the undersigned respectfully request that St. Pius X Catholic School:
(1) return to and maintain, forthwith and by a date certain, a “mask-optional” environment for all school children, with immediate relief during attendance at school Mass and participation during athletic and extracurricular activities;
(2) refrain from imposing any Covid-19 vaccination requirements or inquiring of children about their vaccination status;
(3) revisit contact tracing protocols to conform with requirements under Indiana law; and
(4) implement and maintain, with parental input, a cooperative and transparent process for parents and the school to work together on future policies and educational initiatives and instruction, including any that relate to the pandemic or social, emotional, and health matters.
Parents of St Pius X Catholic School