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Youngstown Diocese mandates masks in Catholic schools after 'prayer and consultation' with health officials

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Posted at 12:36 PM, Aug 25, 2021

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The Diocese of Youngstown has mandated masks in Catholic schools across the six counties it serves, some of which are in the News 5 viewing area in Northeast Ohio.

The mandate was announced in a letter Bishop David J. Bonnar sent to families and students across Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana, Stark, Portage, and Ashtabula counties.

In the letter, Bonnar stressed the decision was not part of any sort of political agenda—and made only with the common good in mind.

"In all of our schools we, especially the principals, faculty and staff, take very seriously our shared responsibility to educate your child. At the same time, we know that it is important for us to provide safe and healthy environments in which our children can flourish and grow," Bonnar wrote.

Bonnar said the Diocese wants to make sure the school year can start safely, even with the rising cases of the COVID-19 delta variant.

"In order to insure as best as possible, the beginning of a school year without interruption and given the rising numbers of the Delta Virus which we have been told is even more aggressive than Covid-19, coupled with the fact that many of our children are unvaccinated, especially those 12 and under through no fault of their own, I made a decision after much prayer and consultation with the Chief Health Official for the State of Ohio, Doctor Bruce Vanderhoff, M.D., our Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Mrs. Mary Fiala, and members of my Senior Staff to temporarily enforce the wearing of masks inside our schools in certain situations with the promise to review this matter in mid-September when we are told by the authorities that the trends and threats should diminish," Bonnar wrote.

"He continued, "It should be noted that many of our local Health Departments have added their voice to the schools in their jurisdiction strongly recommending the wearing of masks along with all of the other protocols."

According to the Bonnar, the mandate is temporary and while it may not be something all parents agree on, it's something the Diocese stands by for the overall safety of its students, staff and faculty.

"I realize that while many embrace this decision with relief and gratitude, there are others who meet it with disappointment and even anger. As a bishop, I am called to be a shepherd who leads, feeds and protects always for the good of the Church in the name of Jesus Christ. Based upon all of the data and information provided to me I stand by this decision. It is only temporary," Bonnar said.

CLICK HERE to read the full announcement from the Diocese of Youngstown.

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