Anne Arundel Co. families await decision on school mask mandate

Families in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, are still waiting to hear whether masks will be required in schools when classes begin in less than three weeks.

Superintendent George Arlotto said there would be a mask mandate, but the Anne Arundel County Board of Education scheduled a Sept. 1 vote on whether masks should be optional for students and staff members.

Anne Arundel County Board of Education President Melissa Ellis said she is not a fan of the idea.

“I cannot foresee supporting a long term requirement on our students of wearing masks all day,” Ellis said, expressing concern about the psychological effect such mandates may have on young people.

Masks in general were a touchy subject during the board’s Wednesday meeting.

Members of the audience were kicked out of the room for refusing to put masks on, and board members disagreed with each other about whether they themselves should be forced to wear masks during meetings.

Two of the seven board members did not have masks on.

“We share the air in this room,” said Board Vice President Dana Schallheim, who asked that her colleagues be required to wear face coverings. “There isn’t plexiglass around us.”

Ellis said members of the board should not be forced to wear a mask if they don’t want to.

“I do not believe it is my place to mandate my fellow members,” Ellis said. “I believe it is on every member to own and live with the consequences of their own decisions.”

The first day of classes for Anne Arundel County students in kindergarten through sixth grade and ninth grade is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 8.

Students in grades seven, eight, 10, 11 and 12 will have their first day of classes the following day.

Watch the Board of Education meeting:

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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