Some Md. school systems end mask mandates. Where does Montgomery County stand?

Portrait of african girl wearing face mask and writing solution of sums on white board at school. Black schoolgirl solving addition sum on white board during Covid-19 pandemic. School child thinking while doing mathematics problem and wearing surgical mask due to coronavirus.(Getty Images/iStockphoto/Ridofranz)
Some school systems are ending mask mandates now that the Maryland State Board of Education said it’s up to the counties to make them optional. The state’s largest school system in Montgomery County is waiting, for now.

Students in Howard County public schools will no longer be required to wear masks indoors starting on March 1.

But Montgomery County students will have to keep those masks on.

“We’re never going to have a decision that is good for everyone,” said Montgomery County School Board member Rebecca Smondrowski.

The board discussed ending the mask mandate in schools at the Montgomery County Board of Education meeting on Thursday.

Of those who spoke on the matter, Smondrowski and Karla Silvestre said they are in favor of lifting the mask mandate in schools.

“We have to have an exit plan. I support going mask optional,” Silvestre said.

Student board member Hana O’Looney said it’s too soon.

“We just want our schools to be comfortable spaces for students. The last thing I want to do is to make them not comfortable for students,” O’Looney said. “I think our school system should follow CDC guidance at minimum.”

The state board has already approved “off ramps” for districts to lift their mandates.

This includes at least 80% of a county’s population being vaccinated. Montgomery County’s rate exceeds 85%.

MCPS Superintendent Monifa McKnight said she thinks they should wait until a state legislative committee agrees with the state board of education decision.

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.

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Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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