Announcement of Greater Flexibility Regarding COVID Rules for Catholic Schools In Fall 2021

As of May 28, 2021

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The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) recently updated its guidance for public schools for Fall 2021. The expectation is 5-days a week, in-person instruction. DESE has removed all physical-distancing requirements, and reduced but not eliminated the requirements for sanitizing surfaces.

Links to DESE Guidance:

The Archdiocese of Boston has decided on the following policies for masks, vaccines, cleaning, and reporting of cases for Fall 2021. This applies to parochial schools and any RCAB-related schools. We additionally ask that all Catholic schools in the Archdiocese, regardless of governance status, follow the requirements for daily reporting of Covid cases.


  • No masks will be required for any outdoor activities, as DESE already has stipulated.
  • Further, each parochial or RCAB-related school will be authorized to develop their own mask policy, ranging from following any current or future DESE policies to eliminating masks entirely. Our schools do not have to automatically follow current or future DESE guidelines on masks.
  • Schools should weigh: level of vaccination within the school, age, demographics, historic Covid caseload, and input from parents and faculty/staff.
  • Parents of children of any age are entitled to request that their own children wear masks. Enforcement of this request is between the parent and child, and teachers are not required to be the enforcer of such parental requests.
  • Any fully vaccinated faculty, staff or student need not wear a mask indoors or outdoors – a policy intended to encourage vaccination.


  • Covid vaccination of faculty, staff or children may not be mandated by a Catholic school. Presently, Covid vaccination is not mandated by state law.

Handwashing/Facility Cleaning:

  • Until deemed unnecessary by DESE, schools will maintain: frequent hand washing/sanitation and recently modified facility-cleaning protocols.

Daily Reporting of any Covid Cases:

  • Every Catholic school must provide a detailed daily report on any new Covid cases, on a form provided by the Archdiocese, by the close of business every day.

Required Legal Baseline (Not Optional):

  • All schools must comply with local health orders.
  • All schools receiving early-childhood “vouchers” must follow requirements from the MA Department of Early Education & Care (EEC) for applicable schools and students, including any requirements for masks.

Thank you for all you have done to keep our students, faculty and staff safe this past year during in-person instruction. This has been a combined effort by parents and schools.

We are excited to move closer to normalcy by providing this additional flexibility.

Tom Sig 2

Thomas W. Carroll
Superintendent of Catholic Schools
Archdiocese of Boston