2022-2023 Communication Regarding COVID-19

August 16, 2022
Dear Catholic School Parents and Guardians,

I hope this letter finds you and your family well and enjoying a relaxing summer! It was your support and partnership that afforded us the opportunity to safely provide in-person instruction during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years and we are looking forward to continuing that partnership for the upcoming school year.

Our theme for the 2022-23 school year is “One Body in Christ.” Together with you, as "one body in Christ," we remain committed to the safety and well-being of our students and staff members.

Our Catholic schools operate in nine jurisdictions/counties throughout Maryland, and we continue to monitor each jurisdiction's COVID-19 positivity rate throughout the summer. While we are in a much better position than last summer, we must continue to remain vigilant. The latest coronavirus variant, BA.5 is extremely contagious and continuing to spread throughout all jurisdictions. Recent data from coronavirus.maryland.gov indicates a 12.75% average positivity rate across the State, which is considered substantial transmission.

Therefore, as we prepare for the start of the new academic year, I would like to provide a few reminders regarding the COVID-19 policies for the Department of Catholic Schools:

Students, based on parental choice, will retain the option of wearing a mask or not. Staff and visitors will also have the option to wear a mask or not. This applies to all individuals regardless of vaccination status. Anyone who chooses to wear a mask may continue to do so, and will be fully supported in their decision and will be treated with respect. Enforcement of this choice is between the parent and the child, not the school administration, faculty, or staff. This allows for a parent’s personal accountability and responsibility for the health and well-being of their child.

Hand Hygiene, Respirator Etiquette, and Sanitization
Washing hands can prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Our schools will continue to reinforce proper handwashing behaviors. We will continue to provide handwashing supplies, including soap and water and hand sanitizer. Our schools will continue to reinforce covering coughs and sneezes to help keep individuals from getting and spreading infectious
diseases. Our schools will continue to have high touch surfaces cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis.

Isolation and Quarantine
All Catholic Schools will adhere to CDC guidance relative to individuals who test positive for COVID-19 or who has been identified as a close contact outside of the school by a health official. Students and staff who test positive for COVID and those who are unvaccinated and identified as a close contact, are required to wear a mask following their respective
period of isolation/quarantine for five additional days. Those who are identified as a close contact, regardless of vaccination status, are not required to quarantine; however, those who can mask should do so for 10 days following the date of exposure. 

COVID-19 Testing
On a school-by-school basis, and based on the availability of funding, Catholic Schools may elect to provide diagnostic rapid antigen testing to confirm symptomatic cases within the school community. Testing will not be done on students without parental consent.

COVID Vaccinations
COVID vaccinations are not mandated in our schools; however, we encourage vaccination for all eligible students and staff to reduce the potential for serious illness and hospitalization.
Please continue to remain vigilant and monitor the health of the members of your household over the summer. Our ability to offer in person instruction is dependent upon your partnership. If a child is exhibiting symptoms of COVID, RSV, or influenza, they should remain home to avoid exposing the school community to illness. If there is a family member in the same household with symptoms, the students from that household should remain home until the other individual is beyond the 5 days or they should test the child at home each day before sending the student to school.

Thank you for your partnership and support!

One in Christ,
Dr. Donna Hargens
Superintendent of Catholic Schools