Welcome to the Nativity Update Center, a dedicated space on our website designed to keep parents, staff, and the entire Nativity community informed about the effect of the Coronavirus on our community.
This Update Center serves as an ongoing reliable resource for the entire Nativity community, demonstrating proactive and transparent access to critical information. We will continue to update this with news and information as it becomes available. It is our mission to keep you informed on how we are preparing to cope with Coronavirus and any other potential health-related or time-critical topics. We hope you’ll find it useful.
Updated on 8/23/2021 at 12:00 pm
A number of parishioners have reached out to me with concerns about parish practices during Mass related to COVID, especially the wearing of masks. With the COVID Delta variant still dominating the news, this is a particularly pointed issue in our communities. Also, since children are returning to area schools there have been updated procedures and protocols from the previous school year, including at Nativity parish school. All ages are not yet able to be vaccinated, and some children and adults may have medical conditions that do not allow for vaccination at this time. There is currently no legal mandate to be vaccinated, while some may have authentic conscientious objections to the COVID vaccine. Unlike the previous year, there are many more variables for churches and schools to consider.
As such, all pastors in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati have received the following continuing guidance:
“Regarding masking while in church, there is no new direction from the Pastoral Center at this time. As we have stated in the past, please follow the guidance of the state and local health authorities. If those bodies recommend masking, then you should recommend (but not require) masking. If they require masking, then you should require masking.”
I have noted to the Pastoral Center of the Archdiocese the discrepancy this causes for parishes with schools. No revised guidelines have been given to pastors.
At this time, the guidelines from state and local health authorities for churches and schools are not the same. This is challenging for parishes with schools, like Nativity. Due to increased exposure during the school day (7 hours v. 1 hour for weekend Mass) and that vaccines are not available for all ages of students, parish schools may require masks. Current guidelines for schools recommend either masks or social distancing. To accommodate all students in Nativity church for weekly school Mass, social distancing is not possible, so we are requiring masks.
For weekend Masses, given that I am not to require masks unless the State of Ohio and/or Hamilton County requires them, the wearing of masks to all other Masses other than the school Mass is recommended but not required. However, I have asked that all those volunteering to distribute Holy Communion resume wearing masks at that time. I will resume wearing a mask as well during the entrance procession and recessional.
Finally, as a reminder, though the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and other Holy Days of obligation is in effect, under universal canon law this obligation does not apply to those who are seriously ill or have a serious health risk. Likewise, the obligation does not apply to those who care for those who cannot attend Mass in person (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2181). Those who are legitimately excused from Mass on Sundays and other Holy Days are encouraged to spend time in prayer, meditating on the Death and Resurrection of the Lord, reading the Sacred Scriptures, and uniting themselves to Christ in his worship of the Father of us all. Those who are legitimately excused are also encouraged to view a broadcast of the Mass which is intended for those who cannot participate in person, possibly praying the prayer of spiritual communion at that time.
Let us continue to pray for an end to this pandemic once and for all. May we be especially mindful of our sisters and brothers in the developing world who do not have easy access to vaccines or protective equipment. The following prayer is from SECAM, the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences in Africa and Madagascar, for all those affected by the coronavirus:
Almighty and merciful Father, who show your love to all your creation.
We come before you asking for a quick control of the coronavirus currently ravaging our world.
Hear graciously the prayers we make for those affected by the virus in various parts of the world.
Grant healing to the sick, eternal life to the dead, and consolation to the bereaved families.
We pray that an effective medicine to combat the sickness be speedily found.
We pray for the relevant governments and health authorities that they take appropriate steps for the good of the people.
Look upon us in your mercy and forgive us our failings.
In Christ through Mary and Joseph,
August 19, 2021
Dear Parents, Guardians, and Students,
We hope you all have had a safe and enjoyable summer. The Nativity staff has been busy preparing for our return to school in 2021-2022. As you are aware, over the last several weeks the Delta variant has forced schools to re-evaluate their reopening plans. Nativity has taken a collaborative approach to forge a plan with the assistance and guidelines from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, the Ohio Department of Education, Cincinnati Public Schools, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Center for Disease Control and the Ohio Department of Health. We also consulted with the Task Force as well as parents from many occupational fields to help guide us in the development of this plan.
An important part of this plan is Nativity’s commitment to maintaining a strong, “Catholic Identity.” The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has developed four guiding principles that are essential to meet the specific needs of Catholic Schools:
Create, Protect, Prioritize, and Operate.
- CREATE a community centered around Christ that supports the social and emotional well-being of all members.
- PROTECT students, staff, and families within our school communities. Nativity will follow the health and safety guidelines outlined by the Ohio Department of Health and their local health departments.
- PRIORITIZE student learning to ensure all students are learning at grade level and are receiving rigorous instruction focused on essential skills that are necessary for future learning.
4. OPERATE efficiently, collaboratively, and responsibly. Nativity will be prepared to operate within the health and safety guidelines outlined by the Ohio Department of Health, their local health department, the Ohio Department of Education, and their specific community stakeholders.
Upon careful consideration and planning with the teachers/staff, Task Force, medical experts, Father Eric and myself, we will begin the school year with all students and staff participating in face to face instruction with the restrictions that are outlined in this plan. This decision is what we feel is best at this time but is subject to change as circumstances require.
It is our intent to provide the safest environment for our students and staff. We are committed, with your assistance, to do everything we can to protect them. If we follow the new policies and expectations as established by Nativity and the public health authorities, I am confident that our learning environment will be as safe as possible for all of our students, staff, and families.
The general overall guidelines of our return to school are listed below.
- All staff will be required to wear face coverings throughout the day.
- Students in grades K-8 are required to wear masks when they are entering and exiting the building. Students in grades K-8 will be required to wear their masks throughout the day. Mask breaks will be provided by the teachers throughout the day. Students will not be required to wear masks at recess. Please put your name on the mask, and lanyards are recommended.
- Students with underlying medical conditions or disabilities won’t be required to wear the mask. Proper medical documentation must be on file in the school office if a medical condition or disability prohibits a student from wearing a mask.
- Students should bring a water bottle to school each day. The drinking fountains will only be available as refill stations.
- Throughout the day students will move about the school, utilizing all areas of the building, including the specials rooms. We will establish at least 3 feet of distance between students and their desks.
- Students will be able to utilize lockers and a schedule made available to maintain social distancing.
- Increased cleaning and disinfecting will occur taking into consideration areas that have been used and at what times of the day.
- A morning Wellness Check will be required by the parent/guardian before sending their child to school. This will include a symptoms check. SchoolPass, a phone/device app, will be utilized to send your information to school. More details will be forthcoming about the Wellness Check App.
- Lunch will be in the cafeteria and barriers will be used. Students will sit with their homeroom classes and seating charts will be utilized for contact tracing.
- Teachers will be instructing their students on these general guidelines and how they pertain to school and their particular class.
It is important that we all remain flexible in this ever changing environment that we live in. Nativity will continue to monitor the latest data and guidelines that are being presented by our local health departments and the State of Ohio. We are prepared to adjust as needed. We will continue to reach out to our task force and staff for input and feedback, so we may adjust accordingly.
We appreciate your patience and support as we discover and implement new ways to teach and learn. As a community, we can solve our problems and make new initiatives that will not only make us better learners, but a faithful, empathetic group of people that can overcome any adversity that stands in our way. Please continue to pray for our students, staff and families as we venture into the new school year. Regular updates will be available on the Nativity website: www.nativity-cincinnati.org/updates
Grace and Peace,
Concern or question?
Safety is one of our top priorities at Nativity. If you have a question, concern or comment about any health or safety issue, please contact Rudy Gruenke IV, Director of Operations at (513) 513-0209 or firstname.lastname@example.org.