School is back in session as COVID-19 cases continue to climb in the U.S. Students are gearing up for another academic year while parents, school leaders and elected officials fight over pandemic politics, public health concerns, personal freedoms and contentious vaccine and masking policies. For some districts, the new school year is already shaping up to be a bumpy one as educators navigate COVID-19 outbreaks, temporary school closures and coronavirus culture wars. Religion also is in the mix. It’s a part of everything from the vaccine exemption requests to parent motivations and the very missions of the schools themselves.
The latest edition of ReligionLink looks at five ways to cover the school year amid the pandemic through a faith lens.
Religious exemptions for masks and vaccines
Religious exemptions have emerged as one way to circumvent mask and vaccine requirements, which vary from place to place. Faith leaders — even those within the same religious tradition — disagree as to whether such exemptions are appropriate or in keeping with their beliefs and teachings.
Mask guidance has evolved. Amid the threat of the delta variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention modified its advice and recommended every child over the age of 2 wear a mask in schools to control the spread of the coronavirus.
Will religious exemptions stay in the spotlight as the school year progresses?
- Read “Some Christian Leaders Advise Parents on COVID-19 Exemptions” from Christianity Today on Aug. 24, 2021.
- Read “Parents get coached on how to escape mask and vaccines rules” from The Associated Press on Aug. 21, 2021.
- Read “How Do Religious Vaccine Exemptions Really Work?” from Slate on Aug. 21, 2021.
- Read “GOP governors, school districts battle over mask mandates” from The Associated Press on Aug. 20, 2021.
- Read “The Topic Of Masks In Schools Is Polarizing Some Parents To The Point Of Violence” from NPR on Aug. 20, 2021.
- Read “Priests navigate Catholics’ fears and consciences in vaccine exemption pleas” from Religion News Service on Aug. 19, 2021.
- Read “As US bishops reject exemptions, Pope Francis dubs COVID-19 vaccine ‘act of love’” from Religion News Service on Aug. 18, 2021.
- Read “Vaccine mandates are here. What will happen to religious objectors?” from the Deseret News on Aug. 6, 2021.