Catholic School Parents Ask DC Mayor to Drop Mask Mandate for Religious Schools

Five parents of students at parochial schools operated by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington are asking Mayor Muriel Bowser to lift mandates requiring masking at school.

“Wearing masks in school significantly burdens the exercise of religious education, and there is no justifiable reason for Mayor Bowser to continue mandating masks for religious schools, especially when it is recently lifted mask mandates in most other locations in the district,” attorney Matt Bowman said. , senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, the public interest law firm representing parents.

Mr. Bowman added that “religious freedom laws require the district to waive this warrant on children, teachers and staff of religious schools, and we are asking for a prompt resolution of this matter to avoid possible legal action.” .

While a Feb. 14 ordinance from Mayor Bowser removed the mask requirement for many businesses in the district, including bars, restaurants, gyms and stores, it “obviously leaves — and quite unfairly – masked private school children, with no end in sight. This makes no sense, especially in light of the fact that neighboring jurisdictions in Virginia and Maryland do not impose mask mandates on school children. private.

Maryland lifted its mask mandate for schools on February 21.

Spokespersons for Ms. Bowser, a Democrat, and the DC Health Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Washington Times.

The mask requirement applies to students in K-12 schools, although it could also be interpreted as applying to all preschool students, an observer said.

The Archdiocese of Washington operates nine preschools, 14 elementary schools, and five high schools in the district, including the famous Gonzaga College High School near Union Station.

Kelly Branaman, the archdiocese’s secretary for Catholic schools, said in a letter to parents that the church would advocate with the city “to make face coverings optional,” but conceded that Catholic schools in the district “remain subject” to the masking requirement at this time.

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