MANCHESTER, N.H. (CBS) – Students at New Hampshire Catholic schools will not be required to wear masks during the next academic year. Instead, there will be a “parent choice” police for families.

David Thibault, Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Manchester, made the announcement on Monday.

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New Hampshire Catholic schools have been open for in-person learning since August 2020.

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“We led the way in our decision to return to the classroom, and our students are thriving,” Thibault said. “With a year of in-person learning under our belt and the positive trends in our state’s COVID statistics, the time is right.”

Nearly 500 new students enrolled in New Hampshire Catholic schools last year, and the diocese said “the overwhelming majority” have decided to stay next year.

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“We listened to parents’ desire for a return to normalcy with in-person learning, and now we’re listening again,” said Alison Mueller, director of marketing, enrollment, and development. “We believe that our Catholic schools are partners with parents in the education and formation of their children. Parents throughout our system of Catholic schools will have the flexibility and freedom to make their own decisions on whether or not they want their child to wear a mask at school, and the same is true for our teachers and staff.” Staff