Members of the Maryland State Board of Education voted 12-2 to propose a new emergency mandate that would provide an “exit ramp” for school districts.
The current Maryland statewide mask mandate in public schools remains in place for now.
On Wednesday, members of the State Board of Education voted 12-2 to propose a new emergency mandate that would provide an “exit ramp” for school districts.
State Superintendent of Schools, Mohammed Choudhury, told board members that whatever they decide, they should keep two things in mind: “No school should close because of COVID” and quarantines should be minimized.
During the discussion, board members raised questions about what parameters to apply in a new term and whether school districts should have more authority over mask policies.
At the same time the public school board was meeting, Governor Larry Hogan was holding a press conference on COVID-19.
On a question about the mask’s tenure, Hogan said, “I don’t think we need to change the policy, at this point, but it’s really an independent board making its own decisions.” He hasn’t spoken to any member of the board, he said.
Member of the board of directors Brig. General (retired) Warner Sumpter has told his colleagues he prefers to give more weight to the decisions of each school district. When it comes to school operations, “I really feel like these are decisions that are local,” Sumpter said.
State Council Chairman Clarence Crawford agreed he generally favors local control for school districts. But he added: “I think when you talk about local control there is an equally important element, which is accountability and responsibility for decisions. “
Crawford said he guessed that if board members were asked if they liked to wear masks, no one would raise their hand. “Sometimes you have to do what is necessary even if doing the necessary goes against what you would like to do individually.”
Board member Dr Holly Wilcox suggested using metrics, such as county vaccination rates, when setting mask requirements. “I think it might also be interesting to consider community transmission rates,” she said.
Jean Halle asked his fellow board members and the superintendent if it would be considered if someone had developed natural immunity “because they have already recovered from COVID.”
Choudhury called the concept of natural immunity a “hot topic,” but added that he was not sure if this was a topic that I have personally seen extensive research on.
At the end of the meeting, the council agreed to call on the state’s education ministry to come up with measures for consideration.
The current emergency mandate expires on February 25, 2022. The board could vote to extend the mask’s current statewide tenure, allow it to expire, or pass new regulations.
The next meeting of the Maryland State Board of Education will be on Tuesday, December 7, and the board could then consider the matter for a vote.
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