However, Pastura said, the school cannot possibly know what children are being exposed to outside the seven hours a day they spend at school.
"The release from liability— is it overly cautious? Maybe," he said.
"But we do live in a very litigious society, and we just thought it to be prudent...providing families with a very clear statement, I think that's the responsible thing to do, I think it's the fair thing to do."
Being asked to sign a waiver for any activity can raise red flags for people, Pastura said, and because there is so much uncertainty around coronavirus, it is understandable that parents may not understand the importance of the waiver.
Pastura said he and his Catholic school colleagues at other dioceses across Florida speak regularly about their reopening plans. He said he hopes that parents will trust those in authority over the state's Catholic schools, and recognize that those authorities are creating reopening plans with students' best interests at heart.
"There's a lot that goes into these decisions, and sometimes we just have to have some faith in one another. Even if we don't agree with someone's decision, maybe we can accept that it was made in good confidence based on the information available."
The superintendent of schools for the Pensacola-Tallahassee diocese has also spoken out about the importance of opening Catholic schools in person.
"We feel that their spiritual growth is vital to them. We're educating the whole child, and spiritually is a big part of that," superintendent Mike Juhas told EWTN News Nightly.
Elsewhere, the bishops of California said this week that Catholic schools in California are taking appropriate measures against the threat of coronavirus and authorities should issue waivers to rules that bar the schools from reopening for “vital” in-person education, citing the low risk of coronavirus infection among children.
Initially, the nation’s largest Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles, with 74,000 students attending its schools, announced on June 15 that schools would be reopening for in-person learning in the fall in Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara.
However, California governor Gavin Newsom said on July 17 that schools in the state where coronavirus cases were high would remain closed for in-person learning.
(Story continues below)
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Meanwhile, in Texas where COVID-19 cases have soared in the summer, the state is granting religious private schools the freedom to decide for themselves how to reopen in the fall.
In a July 29 joint op-ed, the archbishops of New York Boston and Los Angeles exhorted Congress and President Trump to adopt a federal scholarship tax credit modeled after successful state-level credits in order to assist private schools. Such a program would now be possible following the Supreme Court’s landmark June ruling in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, they said.
The bishops argued that Catholic schools— many of which are facing closure amid the pandemic— are worth saving because of their savings to taxpayers and their success in creating successful and well-formed citizens.
“Students and families for generations have benefited from Catholic schools, which have benefited America as a whole. This is now in serious jeopardy, as another sad legacy of the coronavirus pandemic,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Cardinal Seán O’Malley, and Archbishop José Gómez wrote.
“Urgent action by President Donald Trump and Congress to meet the needs of Catholic and other school families will preserve this important education option for generations to come and prevent added financial burdens on our government school systems.”