Guidance on liturgy taking place in schools under the latest Coronavirus Regulations
The CES has received a number of requests to give guidance about the celebration of liturgies in schools, including Mass, under The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 4) Regulations 2020 which came into force today. The Regulations permit schools to remain open for the purposes of education. This means that schools are permitted to continue to undertake any of their normal activities subject to appropriate risk-assessments and sign-off at the appropriate level, having had regard to the latest government guidance. Collective worship, including the celebration of Mass, would fall within these potentially permitted activities within the parameters described above.
The latest DfE Guidance for schools can be found here:
Any liturgies (including the celebration of the Mass) that take place in school remain subject to the jurisdiction of the local Diocesan Bishop. Any liturgical celebrations must, therefore, conform to any diocesan guidance or requirements, in addition to following the government guidance mentioned above.
We have been asked specifically about the position of school chapels, following the general closure of places of worship. The Regulations contain an exemption which allows places of worship to be used for the purposes of education. Therefore, provided the activity is one which would be permitted elsewhere in the school, it will be equally permitted by the Regulations if it takes place in the school chapel.
The exemptions set out above do not, however, permit any of the activities mentioned to be open to visitors from outside those who are attending school to receive education or are necessary for the school to deliver education.
The fact that an activity is still permitted by the Coronavirus Legislation is not an indication that it is necessarily safe to carry it out, and ultimately it is for the school to make the decisions about whether, how and by whom such activities are undertaken based on a robust risk assessment and in accordance with diocesan guidance or requirements.
If you require more specific guidance, please contact the CES.