Peoria diocesan schools closed beginning Monday, Mass obligations suspended

Chronicle Media

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky

The Catholic Diocese of Peoria is canceling school beginning Monday, March 16, and also suspending the obligation to participate in Sunday Mass.

Citing an “abundance of caution” after the World Health Organization termed the COVID-19 coronavirus a pandemic on March 11, the Office of Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Peoria has directed its 42 elementary and secondary schools to close March 16-20.

“I have suspended all our educational programs for the next week in order to allow for an intense program of cleaning and disinfecting in all our buildings. This will also allow our principals and faculty to prepare e-learning (online teaching days),” stated Bishop Daniel R. Jenky.

“If the health crisis continues, we will most likely suspend classes for the foreseeable future. I also ask parishes to cancel religious education programs, prayer groups, parish events and other gatherings at this time,” he continued.

“I am also canceling Cathedral and Regional Confirmations and by virtue of this letter, I grant the faculty to Confirm to all the priests of our Diocese. I strongly recommend that this Sacrament be given to small groups without the attendance of people from out of town and where a proxy may serve as the sponsor of record.”

Principals and faculty will have time to prepare for e-learning programs and on Wednesday, March 18, students will participate in an e-learning “Trial” day.

“If the health crisis continues, we will most likely suspend classes for the foreseeable future,” the bishop stated.

The diocese is also urging parishioners older than 60 not to come to mass because they are particularly vulnerable to catching the coronavirus.