A mask requirement has been rescinded for all five of The Diocese of Beaumont’s Catholic schools.
Superintendent of Catholic Schools Felicia Nichols on Tuesday confirmed that the change was made on Monday and notices were sent out.
The schools include Msgr. Kelly Catholic High School in Beaumont, St. Anne Catholic School in Beaumont, St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica School in Beaumont, St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School in Port Arthur, and St. Mary Catholic School in Orange.
“The change was made due to the declining number of COVID cases,” Nichols said. “The data that we use from the state shows that we are below 1% now. So, we felt it was time to move back to mask optional. We certainly encourage those with underlying health conditions or those who choose to do so to wear their mask, but at this time they are all optional in all of our schools.”
Nichols said there have not been many responses to the recent change.
According to an Aug. 26 update from the Diocese of Beaumont — following updated guidelines from the CDC, local health departments and local school districts — the now-rescinded COVID-19 protocols required face coverings indoors at school campuses, when attending religious education classes at parishes, at indoor sports and extracurricular activities. The masks were optional for outdoor activities and events.
“Being properly masked drastically reduces the chance that an individual would be required to quarantine when there is a close contact situation at a school or in a parish religious education class,” the Aug. 26 update previously said. “We recognize that families have been burdened with the stress of having to quarantine, sometimes multiple times within the same family. We believe that this additional layer of safety will mitigate this issue.”
“We will continue to regularly monitor and evaluate our protocols in consultation with medical providers and in consideration of CDC and local health department guidelines,” the previous statement continued. “We continue to pray for the health and safety of the students, faculty and staff of our schools and parishes as well as the greater community.”
The Principal of St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School in Port Arthur Dale Fontenot said Bishop David Toups discussed the change with the school leaders.
“It’s a change that the whole administration came together to make,” Fontenot said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, city of Beaumont had reported a total of 17,405 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Beaumont jurisdiction, which includes 15,850 in the city of Beaumont, 341 in Hamshire, 598 in Fannett, 99 in Cheek, 258 in China, 100 in Nome and 159 in Bevil Oaks. Out of the total, there were 18 new confirmed cases.
The health department also reported 283 were deaths of individuals with underlying health conditions, 28 without and 248 COVID-19-positive individuals still were isolated.
Children between the ages of 0 to 10 years old made up just six of Tuesday’s newly-confirmed cases. Children between the ages of 11 to 18 years old made up 17% of the same daily total.
Written by Meagan Ellsworth