PHOENIX — Brophy College Preparatory is bypassing standards set by state leaders by requiring all its students and teachers to show proof of vaccination for the coronavirus.
The private Catholic school announced on Wednesday that its students must show proof of vaccination by Sept. 13 or undergo regular COVID-19 testing in order to continue learning on its Phoenix campus.
"Over the last six months, it has become increasingly clear that the most effective way to contain the spread of the virus is to have a vaccinated community," Principal Bob Ryan wrote in a letter to families.
Students and staff will additionally be expected to wear face masks indoors until Sept. 10. Masks will be optional during outdoor activities.
Principal Ryan said the state's rising number of COVID-19 cases over the last few weeks has prompted Brophy's staff to be extra cautious once classes begin on Aug. 12.
"...In light of the current surge and until we have a better sense of the vaccination rate among students, we will wear masks indoors in order to reduce illness and quarantine," the principal wrote.
Any students wishing to participate in school-related overnight retreats or out-of-state field trips must be vaccinated. Students who test positive for the virus must quarantine at home for 10 days.
Brophy is requiring anyone who's had COVID-like symptoms to prove they've tested negative for the virus before they can return to campus.
The school's strict policies notably contradict new laws and executive orders signed by Gov. Doug Ducey that prohibit public schools from mandating vaccinations or face masks.
Several public schools have recently decided to ignore Ducey's law, which doesn't take effect until Sept. 29, by issuing mask mandates on their campuses.
Since Brophy operates as a private institution, it's not subject to the same laws applied to Arizona's public schools.
But the choices made by Brophy's administrators show a clear deviation from standards held by the governor, who has had a close association with Brophy for years.
Ducey's sons, Jack and Joe, graduated from Brophy Prep in 2015 and 2017, respectively. The governor's also visited the Brophy campus multiple times while in office.
As the leaders of a Catholic institution, Brophy's staff said it's their duty to protect themselves and each other in order to return to a sense of normalcy in the future.
"We believe, and our medical advisory committee concurs, that this plan will enable us to safely return not only to in-person learning but to the activities and gatherings that are such hallmarks of the Brophy experience," Ryan added.
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