EVANSVILLE, Ind (WEHT)– The Catholic Schools Office will require students, faculty, staff and visitors to wear a masks in common areas of schools across the Diocese of Evansville starting Monday, August 16. This is a change of plans compared to the requirements during the first days of school for catholic school students across eight southern Indiana counties.
The decision comes as COVID-19 cases increase locally amid the Delta variant. Dr. David Schultz from Evansville Primary Care says the region is already seeing more cases among children and teens as many students wrap up their first week of the school year.
Dr. Schultz says it is important for students to get back in the classroom and have a more traditional learning experience after going through remote education throughout the pandemic. Dr. Schultz says masks are a cheap, but effective barrier for viruses like the Flu and COVID-19.
Dr. Schultz says masks played a key role in stamping down flu season last winter. For the first time in his career, Dr. Schultz says he went through the entire season without seeing a single positive flu test.
While some students are still too young to receive the first dose of the vaccine, the CDC is now supporting third “booster” doses of the vaccine. Dr. Schultz says the booster shot is best for immunocompromised people, including patients receiving chemotherapy, patients with multiple sclerosis, and people taking drugs for rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis.
Diocese of Evansville leaders say the decision to have everyone wear masks while in hallways, auditoriums, gymnasiums, cafeterias and other common areas of school buildings come after an ongoing review of the COVID-19 metrics impacting the diocese. While young people, including students, may not know they have the virus, Dr. Schultz says they can still spread the illness. That’s why he says it’s so important to wear masks, especially in schools.
This mask requirement will be in effect for two weeks. Then the Catholic Schools Office will review the in-school requirements as it continues to monitor COVID-19 metrics.
Students will be able to take off face masks in the cafeteria when they are eating and drinking.
Students will continue wearing masks on buses.