Early Wednesday morning Bishop of Youngstown David J. Bonnar released a statement regarding the Youngstown Diocese's decision to mandate masks on August 20, 2021. 

Bishop Bonnar claims that the decision to mandate masks was to protect the students and was void of any political agenda, but is taking the ongoing threat of the virus seriously so students can remain in school without interruption. 

Bishop Bonnar met with the Chief Health Official for the State of Ohio, Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, M.D. and superintendent Mary Fiala to decide whether they would enforce masks for the upcoming school year. 

The Diocese recognizes that while this decision comes as a relief to some, it could also potentially upset parents, but wants to ensure that the decision was made with the well being of the students and staff in mind. 

The decision to mandate masks will be temporary, and will be re-evaluated as the year proceeds. 

Bonnar acknowledges that many parents and students will have differing opinion on this mandate, but asks that the members of the diocese will set aside their differences and come together on this issue. 

"Bishop Bonnar wrote the letter to clarify the decision of the Diocese and the rationale to why we mandated masks," says Reverend John A. Zuraw. 

According to Zuraw, the mandate was let with very little backlash from only a few parents. 

Bishop Bonnar quotes Pope Francis in the letter, who has been supportive throughout the pandemic of masking and vaccinations. 

This decision differs from The Catholic Schools Office of the Diocese of Erie, who decided not to mandate masks in their schools this year. 

The Erie Diocese will follow state mandates if they arise, but are choosing not to enforce masks at this time. The Erie Diocese will partake in other strategies such as social distancing, disinfecting surfaces, screening before entering the building, staying home when sick and contact tracing cases. 

The Erie Diocese will also consider masking if a county is in the substantial or high counties of community spread. 

The Diocese decision follows other schools such as Boardman Local Schools, Niles City Schools and Champion schools elected to mandate masks for all students and staff.