Maryland has lifted its statewide mask mandate for schools with immediate effect.
A Maryland legislative committee on Friday approved a state board of education decision to allow all 24 local school districts to decide whether face coverings are required in schools.
The decision, effective immediately, ends an emergency order mandating masking in schools that had been in effect since the start of the school year. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and the state superintendent of schools, Mohamed Chowdhury, both lobbied for the decision.
The Maryland State Education Association, the union that represents 76,000 teachers and other support staff, urged caution, asking for the mask mandate to be prolonged.
The mandate was updated in December to give local school systems the option of eliminating the need for masks if the spread of the coronavirus remains moderate or low for two weeks, or if the vaccination rate in the school or community exceeds 80 percent. Is. Some school districts have crossed the threshold, and one, Anne Arundel County, met the standards and decided to make masks optional. Face covering will be mandatory in school buses.
Cheryl Bost, a fourth and fifth grade teacher who serves as the union’s president, said in an interview that the system was working well and that school districts were approaching safe levels. She urged people to wait a week or two before removing the state mask mandate.
“You should give transitional time to districts and families to decide,” she said. “Currently students and teachers are able to participate in in-person instruction due to the mask mandate.”
Ms Bost, who is immunised, said the union wants students and families with high levels of vulnerability to have increased remote-schooling options. He said teachers with special medical needs should also be paid sick leave or an alternative job, and districts should continue to provide masks, testing and contact tracing to keep community transmission rates low.
Fewer than 10 states still require masks in K-12 schools, although federal guidance recommends that people in places with outbreaks, and all students, teachers and school staff members, wear masks regardless of vaccination status. Huh. Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Oregon, among other states, have announced plans to lift mask requirements statewide in schools, citing the easing of the Omicron surge.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will issue new guidelines on Friday to determine when and where people should wear masks, practice social distancing and avoid crowded places. According to two federal officials with knowledge of the plans, the guidelines will direct counties to consider three measures to assess virus risk: new COVID-related hospital admissions during the past week, occupied by COVID patients Percentage of hospital beds and new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people over the past week.
“Using the new structure, Maryland is in a great location,” school superintendent Mr. Chowdhury said Friday afternoon. “We cannot mask our children forever. This is a great time to do it.”