Mask mandate reinstated at Catholic Schools Diocese of Nashville

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Catholic Schools Diocese of Nashville says with a few exemptions, all students, faculty, staff, and guests, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask while indoors on our campuses and on buses starting September 1, 2021.

The announcement came in a letter sent out to parents on Tuesday from the Superintendent of Schools.

On August 16, the Catholic Schools Diocese of Nashville told the community that while they would be respecting Governor Lee’s Executive Order #84, allowing parents to determine whether their children would mask, they would also continue to track the impact of COVID-19 on schools.

Over the last two weeks, they conducted live conference calls with principals and pastors joined by a local hospital administrator who would report on trends and hospital utilization.

Data collected by principals and pastors included school attendance rates, new COVID cases, and new quarantine numbers. The numbers increased significantly from reports the previous week, prompting a video call for principals and pastors Wednesday, August 25. The consensus of those on the call was to institute masks universally.

Bishop Spalding then issued the letter on August 26, to all pastors and school principals which informed them of the diocese’s intent to put a universal mask protocol in place.

The protocol goes into effect on September 1, allowing pastors time to consult with Spalding about the proposal.

The letter contained the following statement, “We realize neither masks nor vaccinations are 100% effective against this virus, but each provides a layer of protection that can reduce transmission among our
students, employees, and family members at home. This protocol will be evaluated September 29th and every fourth week after until we see the effects on our schools return to the levels more closely aligned to last school year.”

Two schools are granted an exemption from this mask protocol. St. John Vianney in Gallatin and Sacred
Heart School in Lawrenceburg. St. John Vianney is a school of 100 students and has experienced zero cases of COVID-19. Their attendance rates are also above average.

Sacred Heart is a school of 85 in Lawrenceburg. They have experienced some cases but they were traced to adult or home contacts.

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St. Patrick School has 120 people and zero cases. They will maintain their modified mask protocol as they continue to return to school following devastating floods. All three will continue to monitor and will will initiate further measures in consultation with the diocese, including masks, if warranted.

Those three schools represent 3.5% of our total enrolled population. No other school exceptions will be made at this point.

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