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Update on Campus Masking Policy

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty, and Staff,

As mentioned in our previous COVID message, changes and adjustments to our plans are not only possible, but probable. Today, we're sharing an update on Bishop Hendricken High School's campus masking policy.

We understand that, as a Hendricken community, we have a responsibility to do our part, even when it may not be fun or popular to do so. We must come together to protect our brothers, faculty, and staff in the hallways, classrooms, and offices.

No one will suggest that masking in school is something that anyone wants or prefers. However, we know that it's a small price to pay if it cuts down transmission even a bit, protects our vulnerable population which includes fellow classmates and staff, keeps our boys in school, and enables students to participate fully in the Hendricken experience.

Therefore, at this time, all individuals must wear a face mask when indoors on campus regardless of vaccination status. This includes students, faculty, staff, parents, visitors, and guests.

While in-school masking has unfortunately become a reality for the time being, we've decided to adopt this change of policy for two critical reasons.

1.) Advice of the Governor & Public Health Officials

Yesterday, Governor McKee announced an executive order making masks mandatory in Rhode Island schools. Therefore, we feel it is in the best interest of the Bishop Hendricken community to adhere to the Governor's guidance. Governor McKee and Dr. Alexander-Scott also strongly recommend that, if you are not currently vaccinated, it's time to do so. You can schedule an appointment to get vaccinated, here.

Based on the data presented by RIDOH each day, we know that we're toeing a fine line here in Rhode Island. Our state is experiencing high transmission. Rhode Island has more than 190 new cases per 100,000 people in the past 7 days. Hospitalizations have once more reached the triple digits. With fall approaching, more of our time being spent indoors, and the rise of new COVID variants, we feel it prudent to be proactive.

1.) Changes in RIDOH Quarantine & Masking Protocol

Additionally, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has updated their quarantine protocol to include a K-12 Student Close Contact Exception. As part of this, a student can be exempt from quarantine regardless of vaccination status if they were exposed to an infected student, but both wore face masks and had 3 feet of physical distance. While this updated policy won't prevent every close contact from being placed on quarantine due to distance requirements, a universal and campus-wide mask mandate will drastically decrease numbers and prevent the quarantine for others. Again, this means more time in the classroom, on the field, and on the stage for students.

Moreover, RIDOH has also stated that vaccinated close contacts should wear masks in indoor settings, including school, until they receive a negative test 3-5 days following exposure, or if choosing not to test, for 14 days. We feel this could be a fairly frequent reality, and therefore, bolsters the case for a school-wide masking policy, too.

Thank you for your continued patience, cooperation, and support. As always, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.

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Mark R. DeCiccio '03


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