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The chairs of the joint legislative committee charged with approving a universal masking mandate in schools called on Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr (R) Friday to waive the 10 business day waiting period required before holding their voting session.
“We are prepared to hold a hearing immediately to approve masks in every school in Maryland starting on Monday,” Del. Samuel I. Rosenberg (D–Baltimore City), House chair of the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review (AELR), said in a statement. “However, Maryland law requires a ten day delay at a time when our kids cannot wait.”
Should Hogan decline to waive the required waiting period, the committee will vote on the matter at a public meeting on Sept. 14.
On Thursday afternoon, the Maryland State Board of Education voted 14-1 to approve a masking mandate for public school teachers and students.
The lone dissenting vote came from board member Gail H. Bates, a former state senator who represented Carroll and Howard counties, who said she’d prefer to leave the decision up to individual school systems.
Until the passage of the Board of Education’s emergency regulation Thursday, the decision to issue masking mandates was left to local school boards to determine in reopening plans to be approved by Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudury.
Most jurisdictions had implemented an in-school masking requirement on their own, but the State Board of Education felt the need to act to protect students in the counties that were holding out.
It’s now up to the AELR Committee, headed by Rosenberg and Sen. Sarah K. Elfreth (D-Anne Arundel), to approve the proposed emergency regulation.
The committee must wait 10 business days before voting on emergency regulations.
But, under state statute, Hogan has the ability to waive that waiting requirement if he deems that the swift adoption of the emergency regulation is essential to protect the health and safety of Maryland residents.
Maryland Matters reached out to the governor’s office for comment on the lawmakers’ request, but one was not made immediately available.
“We have a responsibility to protect the health and safety of every child, regardless of the county they live in,” Elfreth said. “I implore Governor Hogan to give us the power to keep every child in Maryland safe immediately.”