Panel approves rule extending mask tenure in Maryland schools for 180 days – CBS Baltimore

BALTIMORE (WJZ) – Students in Maryland public schools will be required to wear masks for the remainder of the school year, unless their county or school meets criteria based on vaccination or transmission rates.

A General Assembly panel on Wednesday voted 11-5 to adopt an emergency rule approved last month by the Maryland Board of Education, which extends a mask term of 180 days and provides “exit ramps” for the warrant to be lifted.

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The rule adopted by the Joint Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review Committee comes into effect immediately and will last for the remainder of the school year.

State superintendent of schools, Mohammed Choudhury, said the regulation fulfills its responsibility to keep schools open and allow students to continue their learning in person.

“Now we are creating exit ramps that encourage responsible behavior, and that takes us until the end of the school year,” Choudhury told lawmakers. “I have no intention of coming back to you with another emergency settlement on this subject.”

Schools can lift their mask mandates under the following conditions: 80% of the county is vaccinated, 80% of students and school staff are vaccinated, or if the county’s transmission rate is “low” or “moderate” for 14 consecutive days.

So far, none of Maryland’s counties have reached any of these “exit ramps,” although Choudhury said Howard and Montgomery counties are on the verge of reaching the vaccination threshold of. 80%.

Last month, the Education Council voted 12 to 1 to approve the measure, despite a member’s concerns about what it meant for local control.

As a medical professional, Senator Addie Eckardt said she appreciated the compromise provided by the exit ramps, but would not support the settlement.

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“I am increasingly concerned that masks in some way provide a false sense of security to many of our children, as masks alone are not, I think, as effective as washing clothes. hands, proper hygiene and distancing, ”Eckardt said. “I am also concerned about local control. “

“I am concerned about the precedent this sets for the issue of usurpation of local control over decisions like this,” Del added. Haven Shoemaker.

Saying he has three children in public schools, Senator Jeff Waldstreicher said he felt compelled to do what is best for his children and their classmates.

“I have seen the mask’s mandate to keep my own children safe in our public schools and I know it will help keep the other children of my constituents safe,” Waldstreicher said.

In the eyes of Senator Ron Young, the emergency regulations do not go far enough.

“While that doesn’t do as much as I would like it to be, I think it’s definitely better than not doing it,” Young said.

Senate Speaker Sarah Elfreth said one thing all committee members could agree on was that face-to-face learning is the best environment for students. She said this rule is the surest way to do it.

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“We are in crisis mode and it is incumbent on all of us, as members of the community and members of the state, to do all we can to slow the spread and ensure that we can someday come out of this crisis and hopefully soon, ”she said. .

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