MCPS to review masking policies in schools

Heather Jauquet

Hogan asks for mask mandates to lifted at all Maryland schools

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Masks tossed in the airAboodi Vesakaran/Unsplash

As people prepared for holiday get-togethers in December, Maryland saw a spike in COVID-19 transmissions due to the Omicron variant. Schools suffered from a lack of staffing and student absences as the new variant spread across the state. In Montgomery County, school buses were unavailable, and parents were asked to provide transportation for their children. Virtual classrooms maxed out, leaving students without a way to access the curriculum.

Two months later, as transmissions across the state decline, Governor Hogan has announced that the mask requirements end in state buildings and has asked the Maryland State Board of Education (MSDE) to rescind its school mask policy. He went so far as to ask parents to contact the board to share their thoughts on the subject.

On Tuesday, February 22, the Maryland State Board of Education voted 12 to 2 to lift the state mask mandates in school by March 1 and allow local school systems to make their own decisions regarding masking policies.

Governor Hogan thanked the MSDE for heeding the call to rescind school masking policies. However, before the mandate can be lifted, a joint legislative committee must approve the decision. Once the committee approves MSDE’s decision, local school districts will have the ability to make decisions independently for their area.

After MSDE's vote, MCPS shared a community update, maintaining masking policies are still in place. All students and staff are still required to wear masks in schools and offices. The Montgomery County Board of Education will be reviewing the masking policies at their February 24 meeting. However, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich is not in favor of lifting masking mandates in schools just yet. While numbers show a downward trend, Montgomery County is still experiencing a substantial transmission rate.

As parents in Montgomery County are watching for policy changes, the Anne Arundel County school board has already decided to lift its masking policies in a unanimous vote. Masks will be optional except on buses. Students who attend schools in Fort Mead will still have to adhere to the rules on the base.

Teachers in Montgomery County share their concerns that it is still too soon to lift masking protocols, especially for schools with PreK and PEP programs where the children are not old enough to receive vaccinations against COVID.

What do you think about lifting the masking policies in schools? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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Certified educator K-12 and Reading Specialist with a focus on the adolescent brain. I write about how educational decisions affect parents, students, and staff. As an educator and parent I also focus on community events for the whole family.

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