President Joe Biden has new plans to beat COVID-19, which include requiring Americans to be fully vaccinated or strict testing policies for those who choose to not get the shot.
Biden announced on September 9, that businesses with 100 employees or more will be mandated to have all employees be fully vaccinated or tested weekly. Roncalli has over 100 faculty and staff members in addition to the student body of about 1,100. This brings into question how these new mandates will affect Roncalli.
The dean of students, Mr. Tim Crissman, provided an explanation to the mandate situation, current school atmosphere regarding COVID, and more in an interview on Wednesday, September 15.
“One good way to mitigate the pandemic is to be vaccinated, but we make decisions based on the advice from the Catholic Church– our bishops and archbishops, and Pope Francis.”
If Biden did mandate a directive, Crissman says Roncalli would look to the bishops to advise the Catholic Church on its implementation. But because Pope Francis and the bishops have only advocated receiving the vaccine, Crissman does not see Roncalli trying to create their own vaccine mandate as of now. Another factor preventing Roncalli from receiving a COVID vaccine mandate is the already high vaccination rate among the school community, an average Crissman says is 10% higher than the state average.
Crissman says he is “very pleased with the high vaccination rate” because he believes it will minimize the likelihood of school being shut down.
Recently in Indiana there has been a rise in positive cases and hospitalizations due to COVID, which has caused reinstating mask mandates in all Indianapolis Public Schools. However, this does not mean that Roncalli will be doing the same or that schools will be going back to hybrid or virtual learning.
In fact, Crissman said Roncalli’s number of cases remain lower than the state and county. With keeping cases low, comes responsibility to maintain a healthy and safe environment.
“Each one of us is obligated to continue to be mindful that the virus is still with us, so we need to practice what’s best to minimize the spread… [and] the data supports the Roncalli community is doing what needs to be done to keep students in school.”
While staying cautious of COVID, Roncalli has been able to make mass gatherings of people possible. For example, Grandparent’s Day and all school liturgy have all taken place this year without resulting in major increases in COVID cases.
“Having the opportunity to move these events outdoors diminishes the chances of spreading COVID… and having no outside guests to Homecoming is another example of the steps we are taking to keep everyone as safe as possible while maintaining a focus on providing our students a ‘normal’ high school experience,” Crissman said.
Crissman also stated that Roncalli is remaining flexible to adjusting their protocols, while keeping the main goal in mind: maintaining an enriching education with as many students as possible in our school building.