Maryland’s school board to watch COVID-19 data ‘with optimism’ before removing mask policy

In response to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s request to dump the current school mask policy, the state’s school board says it will continue to watch “with optimism” current COVID-19 metrics before making a final decision. 

In a letter sent to WTOP Thursday night, President Clarence Crawford said the Maryland State Board of Education, along with the State Department of Education (MSDE), wants to prioritize “prioritize safe, full-time, in-person learning with minimal disruption.”

The board recently issued a new policy that gives Maryland public school districts three conditions to follow — based on improved COVID-19 data — in order to loosen mask mandates. One of the three ‘off ramps’ school districts must follow include: 

  • At least 80% of the population to be fully vaccinated, as reported by the Maryland Department of Health.
  • A school principal or designated official confirms that 80% of school staff and students are fully vaccinated.
  • The county has gone 14 consecutive days of “moderate or low transmission rate” of COVID-19 cases, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting.

The board will review the state’s COVID-19 metrics at its monthly meeting, scheduled for Feb. 22. Crawford said it would continue to rely on “science, research, and guidance from public health experts, including the CDC and the Maryland Department of Health” before making any decisions.

“We look forward to working with you and stakeholders across the state to provide an excellent and equitable education for every Maryland child,” he said.

The board’s letter to Hogan can be read here.

Earlier on Thursday, Hogan asked the board to rescind its school masking policy “in light of dramatic improvements to our health metrics and the widespread availability of vaccines.”

More Coronavirus News

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.

José Umaña

José Umaña is a digital editor for WTOP. He’s been working as a journalist for almost a decade, covering local news, education and sports. His work has appeared in The Prince George’s Sentinel, The Montgomery Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, PressBox and The Diamondback.

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