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Update to Protocols January 6, 2022

In Effect from through March 3, 2022

In the light of the continued growth in the numbers of new COVID cases, Cardinal Seán is extending the current mask mandate. It is mandated that that throughout the archdiocese all people attending public Masses, including weddings and funerals, wear masks. This is an extension of the mandate currently in effect, and expires on Thursday, March 3, 2022, which is the day after Ash Wednesday.

Mass celebrants, deacons, readers, servers, choir members, and instrumentalists, must all wear masks except when they are speaking. Children under the age of five are not required to wear masks. Children under the age of two should not wear masks. In addition, all churches must continue to provide a designated area in which social distancing is respected for those who want to use it. Parishes should have masks available for people inasmuch as possible.
Inquiries can be addressed to corona@rcab.org

Clarification About Singing

The congregation should keep their masks on while singing, but the choir is not mandated to do so.  The choir does need to wear their masks while they are not singing. Please note: a pastor or choir director can mandate that in his own parish the choir be masked while singing, but that is not required by the mandate.

Children Under the Age of Five

Children under the age of five are not required to wear masks. Children under the age of two should not wear masks.

Designated Areas

In addition, all churches must continue to provide a designated area in which social distancing is respected for those who want to use it.

Have Masks Available

Parishes should have masks available for people inasmuch as possible, as some people attending especially on Christmas may not be expecting to need masks.

This message has been translated into several languages. Below are links to the translations:

Spanish
Portuguese
French
Creole

Questions about the implementation of this policy should be requested to corona@rcab.org

Regarding Faith Formation (updated Nov 2021)

Guidelines in effect through through January 15, 2022:

Any parish in a town with a mask mandate must abide by their town’s requirements.

Parishes that hold in-person gatherings for children’s faith formation and youth ministry that take place indoors – that is, any indoor faith formation programming involving those under the age of 18 – must require masks for all participants now through January 15.

Masks are not required for children under 2 and are at the discretion of the parents for children aged 2 to 5.

If a person has a medical, health, or safety condition that makes it impossible for them to wear a mask they can be exempted and they do not need to present any documentation of that condition.

Parishes should remind participants in parish programming to practice good hygiene, especially frequent handwashing, and to avoid participating in parish activities if they are exhibiting signs of illness.  Given the current circumstances, parishes should strongly encourage parishioners to stay home if they have even minor illnesses.

We encourage parishes to continue to offer on-line faith formation and youth ministry opportunities, and/or to make use of parish and diocesan supported home-based programs such as Project Nazareth for those families unable to participate in-person at this time.

Parishes are not be allowed to require in-person attendance at faith formation and youth ministry programming this year as a condition for receiving First Holy Communion or Confirmation or for any other reason.

Regarding Reporting

If a parish staff member, or a priest or deacon, is diagnosed with COVID, the Archdiocese of Boston must be notified immediately, through the corona@rcab.org email address.

The parish will be instructed in who must quarantine, and how communication with the parish needs to be handled.

If a parishioner reports having attended a Mass and then testing positive for COVID very soon after, an announcement should be made on the parish’s website, not disclosing any information about the parishioner, but informing the parish that a person was at that Mass who then tested positive for COVID. Sample language can be found here:

Please be advised that _________ Parish received a report that someone who attended ___service_______ on ___date_______ was subsequently diagnosed with COVID-19. We have notified the ___city/town_______Board of Health. We have also cleaned and disinfected all of the spaces used during the service. Anyone who may have attended services since that date should monitor their own health and should consider contacting their own physicians for guidance. Thank you for continuing to be vigilant about the importance of social distancing and wearing your mask at all times.

Regarding Vaccinations

The Archdiocese of Boston, following the example of the Cardinal and the Holy Father, continues to urge vaccination as the most effective way to bring this pandemic under control and keep families safe.