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Parents petition against Archdiocese optional mask rule

St. Louis Catholic school parents are trying to reach 1,000 signatures to push for the Archdiocese to require masks

ST. LOUIS — In July, the Archdiocese of St. Louis announced its COVID-19 protocols which included making masks optional in Catholic schools.

Many parents support the school leaders' decision, while others created an online petition pushing for a universal mask requirement. 

More than 600 people signed, inching towards the 1,000 signatures goal.

5 on Your Side spoke with a few over Facebook who didn't want to go on camera.

One said "I'm very disappointed in the mask optional policy" and another wrote, "if even ONE child could get COVID and die from no masks, shouldn't that be a mandate to require masks?"

"I think masking is the way to go as well as these other mitigation strategies that have been so effective in the entire pandemic since March 2020," Dr. Jason Newland, a Washington University Pediatric Infectious Disease Physician at St. Louis Children's Hospital said.

He's working on Moderna vaccine trials for kids under the age of 12.

"The FDA is wanting us to enroll even more participants than was originally thought of to make sure that the vaccine is safe. We are in the process of that. The hope is that we'll get that done over the next 6-8 weeks," Newland said.

Until those vaccines get approved by the Food and Drug Administration, he says the safest bet is to keep the mask on.

"In the school environment we learned last year very well is that if you wear a mask, you do some distancing, you wash your hands, and you stay home when you're sick whether you're a student or a staff member, we can make sure that COVID-19 transmission is rare in schools," Newland said.

A statement from the Archdiocese said they are leaving the decision up to each individual family and that each school will follow its own protocols based on the needs throughout the year.

They encourage all eligible people to get the vaccine.

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