Maryland House GOP members push back on statewide school mask mandate

House Republicans in Annapolis issued a statement saying they have “serious concerns” about the State Board of Education’s move to require masks in all 24 of Maryland’s school districts.

On Monday, Republican members of the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review suggested the mask mandate amounts to “usurpation of local control.”

While House and Senate leadership supported the Board’s action to require masks in all school systems, the GOP members of the AELR Committee, including House Minority Leader Jason Buckel, have said a full hearing is needed after a required 10-day review period.

The members said holding off on adopting the emergency measure is the best tool to examine what the statement called “an unelected and unaccountable government bureaucracy.”

The AELR committee will hold a hearing on the issue on Sept. 14.

House Speaker Adrienne Jones, a Democrat, has called the mask mandate a “common sense” measure. Senate President Bill Ferguson has said the mandate would be “in the best interest of students, families, teachers and staff.”

All but five school systems already require masks in schools. The five counties not requiring masks are Carroll, Cecil, Dorchester, Somerset and Worcester counties, The Associated Press reported.

While all D.C.-area school districts have mandates, masks are not required statewide in Maryland, and several districts decided against them.

“I’ve been very clear: All school systems should start the school year with masking,” state Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury told the board at its meeting last week.

In Maryland, the state superintendent cannot require masks in all school districts. Mask mandates for students have to be imposed by the local district or statewide by Gov. Larry Hogan.

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Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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