The Belen Jesuit class of 2020 celebrated its final mass as a class on June 15. Face masks were provided to all students and attendees and they were required to wear them for the duration of the mass. Additionally, the attendees were limited to only the senior and his mother or female sponsor adhering to the attendance regulation set for the church. Near the end of the mass, Belen Jesuit President Father Guillermo M. García-Tuñón, S.J. asked everyone to temporarily remove his or her mask in order to sing a prayer to the Blessed Mother and to put it back on after the song.
After the mass, we realized that asking people to remove their masks didn’t send the right message and thought it best to edit that part from the video, before posting it on our YouTube channel. We understand the importance of having everyone wear a face mask and we followed all CDC guidelines and county regulations to ensure the safety of all the attendees. No one has reported to the school that they tested positive with COVID-19 as a result of the mass.
We only know of one case in which a member of the class of 2020 has been infected with COVID-19. His sibling tested positive, so he was tested. The sibling - who does not attend the school - did not attend the mass. According to the family and their contact tracing, the sibling contracted COVID-19 on June 15 (the same night of the mass), while attending a non-Belen Jesuit event. As soon as the school was notified on June 20 that the sibling tested positive, we immediately notified the class of 2020 in an abundance of caution.
The graduation ceremony was held on June 16. Each student was seated 6-feet apart and wore a face mask. Students also processed into the facility 6-feet apart. Hand sanitizing stations were at every door and at the stage. Every student was required to use hand sanitizer before and after walking across the stage to receive his diploma. Guests were limited to 3 people per graduate and all were required to wear face masks. The guests from each individual family were required to enter the hall together and sit as a unit. Seats were not allowed to be moved. Additionally, guests were dismissed to their cars after the graduates exited the venue. Families were advised to take pictures of their son at home prior to arrival.
Belen Jesuit Preparatory School was founded in 1854 in Havana, Cuba by Queen Isabel II of Spain. The task of educating students was assigned to the priests and brothers of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), whose teaching tradition is synonymous with academic excellence and spiritual discipline. In 1961, the new political regime of Cuba confiscated the School property and expelled the Jesuit faculty. The School was re-established in Miami the same year, and over the next decade, continued to grow. Today, Belen Jesuit sits on a 30-acre site in western Dade County, only minutes away from downtown Miami.