BALTIMORE, MD (September 14, 2021)– In support of continuing efforts to keep students and school staff safe and ensure schools remain open for in-person learning during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Maryland State Board of Education, together with the Maryland State Department of Education, today received approval of a statewide masking requirement for all public schools.
Following public testimony today,the Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review (AELR) Committee approved the emergency regulation, which will be in effect for 180 days.
The emergency regulation requires any person inside a public school facility to wear a face covering, with certain exemptions in place. Aligned with all available health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Maryland Department of Health, the new regulation is necessary to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Maryland public schools, prevent school closures, and limit the number of students required to quarantine out of the classroom.
“Our foremost priority as a Board is always the safety of everyone in our school buildings – we take the health and safety of students and school staff in every part of our State very seriously,” said Board President Clarence C. Crawford. “Circumstances require the need for a universal, statewide approach to masking in schools to keep our school communities safe and give every one of Maryland’s students the opportunity to learn in-person with as few interruptions as possible.”
“Masking inside schools helps protect our students, teachers, and school staff as we continue to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury. “It is critical that all school systems follow this emergency law, and immediately implement face-covering requirements as one of several layered public health strategies to keep schools open and safe.”
“Today, the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review (AELR) overwhelmingly approved a common-sense mask requirement for all Maryland schoolchildren, teachers, and administrators. This measure, which the Senate called for weeks ago, comes at a time when school has already begun across the state and the protection of our children needs to remain our top priority. We know mask-wearing helps slow the spread of COVID-19 and my goal has been to keep as many kids learning in school as possible,” said Senate President Ferguson.
“This plan could have been implemented sooner; however, I applaud the AELR Committee for moving as quickly as legally allowed to slow the spread of the deadly delta variant in schools,” continued Ferguson.
The Maryland State Education President Cheryl Bost issued the following statement:
“We applaud the decision of the State Board, which was supported today by a legislative committee, to issue an emergency regulation requiring universal masking in all schools because it will help protect the health of our school communities and help us as educators to keep school buildings open and learning ongoing. This is the type of clear guidance, communication, and support that is essential to ensure that students, families, and educators feel safe and supported during these challenging times.“Data from other states without universal masking policies tell an alarming tale of increased infections and hospitalizations among students, including those too young to receive a vaccine. We want to avoid these negative outcomes for our children and families here in Maryland. Masking, along with regular testing, adequate ventilation, increased vaccination, and other health and safety measures gives us the best possible chance to protect the health and safety of our students, educators, and school communities.”
Currently, nearly all, 22 of 24, local school systems require face coverings inside schools; local systems may establish and implement further masking policies and procedures in addition to the minimum requirements outlined in the emergency regulation. The new regulation will be enforced immediately.