Beyond MoCo: Howard County Board of Education Votes to Lift Universal Indoor Mask Mandate, Effective Tuesday, 3/1/22

by MCS Staff

At its meeting on Feb. 24, 2022, the Howard County Board of Education voted to make face coverings optional, effective March 1, based on the Maryland State Department of Education’s off-ramp option one for school districts to lift mask requirements.

The Montgomery County Board of Education announced that it will be holding off on making any changes to the school mask requirement until March 8.

On Tuesday, February 22, the Maryland State Board of Education voted 12-2 today to rescind its statewide mask mandate for public schools, effective March 1.

The Maryland General Assembly’s Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review Committee (AELR) is scheduled to meet tomorrow, February 25, to approve the Maryland State BOE’s decision.

MCPS Superintendent Monifa McKnight said she was waiting on the AELR’s decision before moving forward with any changes.

Last night, the Frederick County Board of Education of voted to encourage face coverings but no longer require them inside all school buildings effective Friday, Feb. 25.

The full message from Howard County can be seen below:

Effective Tuesday, March 1, universal indoor masking in HCPSS buildings is no longer required. Any student, staff or visitor may choose to wear a mask, and should feel comfortable doing so. Schools and offices will continue to have additional masks available as needed. The federal requirement for masks on public transportation remains unchanged so anyone on a school bus will still be required to wear a mask.

Shifting to optional mask-wearing impacts a number of other areas and additional information will be shared with the community on Friday, Feb. 25 regarding these impacts.

“I am pleased that the Board of Education has voted to support the use of this ‘off-ramp.’ While the Superintendent had noted his intention to lift the mandate following the Maryland General Assembly committee’s vote on Friday, Feb. 25, we wanted to provide our community additional notice regarding this change.” stated Vicky Cutroneo, Board of Education Chair. “As we have seen a decline in cases and transmission in our county, and the optimistic community message from the Health Department this week regarding declining metrics, I believe this is the right time to make masks optional.”

“It is encouraging that nearly all metrics that our health department has used to inform COVID-related decisions have seen a decline for the first time in these last three months and I commend HCPSS students, staff and community for our collective efforts to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in our community,” stated Superintendent Dr. Michael J. Martirano.

“While masks will no longer be required in schools, every student and staff member should feel encouraged and supported to make the decision they feel most comfortable with,” he continued. “We will remind students and staff to practice civility and respect the choices of others when it comes to masking, and I seek the community’s support and collaboration in reinforcing and modeling this behavior for our children. System and school leaders will work to ensure the safety and well-being of our staff and students as we make this transition.”

 

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