Md. education board may require masks, sidestepping Hogan and school districts

Maryland’s Board of Education may require students to wear masks inside the classroom — a move that would sidestep the governor and many local school districts.

“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 Tuesday.

“The CDC update that they made says you do not have to quarantine children when they’re within 3 to 6 feet of someone who is asymptomatic or positive. Because they have a mask, you don’t have to do a massive quarantine of children and disrupt learning.”

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

But Choudhury suggested the board look at alternative ways to impose the mandates.

“There is also another pathway: There is an emergency regulation that the board can pursue, and that is up to you guys to consider. But I’ll say it right now: The superintendent supports that pathway, if you want to take that.”

Board President Clarence Crawford then confirmed that they will discus the option with legal counsel.

Choudhury said they may try to compel districts to mandate masks by not approving plans to receive pandemic relief funding, but he is not sure whether he has the legal authority to reject plans if the masking is just recommended from the state.

“If I deny a plan that does not universally mask children and does everything else, do I have the backing to do that? Do I have U.S. Education Department behind me? Or do we have a whole other showdown behind it?” he said.

All students in Virginia and the District are required to wear masks.

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