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COVID-19 mandatory vaccination or routine testing implemented for staff at schools in Diocese of Wilmington

Students at St. Elizabeth School participated in walking Stations of the Cross around the parish campus on March 31.

The Diocese of Wilmington Catholic Schools Office is requiring that all school personnel and volunteers in parish and diocesan PreK-12 schools be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing beginning Nov. 1.

Diocesan schools Superintendent Lou De Angelo spelled out the requirements of the mandatory vaccination or routine testing in a meeting with school administrators Oct. 14. Educators, custodians, school administrators, school nutrition workers, bus drivers, contractors, volunteers, and any other individuals employed by, or working or volunteering in a parish or diocesan school are subject to the requirement, he said.

The requirements are in compliance with a mandate issued earlier this month by Delaware Gov. John Carney. The Diocese of Wilmington incudes schools in Delaware and Maryland. Maryland has no similar mandate, but the diocese is implementing the rules for its schools in both states. The requirements do not apply to religious education programs or CYM sports, De Angelo said. He said private Catholic schools in the diocese, while adhering to the state mandate, may determine their own protocols.

Fully vaccinated against COVID-19 refers to a person who is more than two weeks past receiving their second Pfizer or Moderna dose or their single Johnson and Johnson vaccine, per the CDC’s public health recommendations for vaccinated persons.

A medical exemption would be honored for people with conditions that may prohibit them from receiving the COVID-19 vaccination and/or COVID-19 testing. To qualify, De Angelo said, the employee must have a disability under the ADA, defined by the ADA as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment or a person who is perceived by others as having such impairment.

School staff must certify that they are fully COVID-19 vaccinated or be required to test for COVID-19 on a weekly basis and certify to this testing, according to the policy. If a staff member does not certify that they are fully vaccinated, the staff member will be required to participate in the COVID-19 testing certification process which includes weekly testing.

Take-home rapid antigen test kits and over-the-counter test kits are not acceptable for testing certification, according to the policy.

School staff hired after Nov. 1 must complete the COVID-19 vaccination certification process within seven calendar days after their date of hire if vaccination certification is their option. The certification is valid through Oct. 31, 2022.