The State School Board of Education voted for the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) to develop a new set of emergency regulations that would establish localized exit ramps for masking in public schools.
After a heated discussion, the State Council today voted 12-2 on a process to establish exit ramps for its current mandate of masking in schools. The MSDE will now draft a new set of emergency regulations (with a 180-day cap) that includes considerations for local school districts, or even individual schools, to lift the mandate once the jurisdiction / l The school has met certain criteria. These criteria could include vaccination rates among students and staff, local transmission rates and hospitalization rates, for example.
The current emergency regulation, adopted and adopted in September to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in schools, requires the wearing of masks in all public school facilities, with no local exceptions or exit ramps.
Deliberations have largely focused on local control and finding ways for local school systems or even individual schools to implement exit ramp masking. One possibility that was mentioned several times was to use the vaccination rates of counties or even individual schools to do this – once a county or school achieved a certain level of youth vaccination, that school system or school could. then consider unmasking.
Today’s conversation opened with Deputy State Superintendent Mary Gable who presented the current status of COVID-19 cases and community transmission. Data last week showed a slight increase in transmission rates in 21 local school systems, in line with the state’s recent increase.
Next, Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury shared his thoughts on how best the public school system should proceed with COVID mitigation policies. Choudhury stressed the need to keep students learning in person and to minimize learning in quarantine as much as possible, noting the strong role of masks in helping to do so. He stressed that the Council should not simply lift the current masking mandate entirely without data to back it up.
Ahead of today’s move, the council met on November 16 in a special meeting to hear from the public, education officials and national medical experts on the policy. This meeting lasted nearly five hours and featured a lively discussion on the benefits and challenges of masking in schools.
Stay tuned to Conduit Street Blog for coverage on upcoming emergency regulations suggested by the MSDE.
Video of the December 1 meeting is available online.
- The deliberations on the mask policy begin approximately 45 minutes.
- The vote takes place around 2 hours.
Access the meeting agenda and documents.
Before Conduit Street Coverage on masking in schools:
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