Last month, the Maryland State Board of Education approved a proposal outlining off-ramps from the face mask requirement in Maryland public schools. The measure was also approved by the Maryland General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review and replaced COMAR regulations that were set to expire on Feb. 25. At this time, the mask requirement for Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) students, staff, and building visitors remains in place.
The new state regulations outline off-ramps that include three areas for local Boards of Education and superintendents to consider when removing mask mandates in schools.
- Allowing a local Board of Education to eliminate a mask mandate in schools if at least 80 percent of the county’s population is fully vaccinated for COVID-19;
- Giving each local superintendent the authority to remove the mask mandate for a school or facility with confirmation that 80 percent of students and staff have been fully COVID-19 vaccinated; and
- Allowing a local superintendent to lift the requirement if the county has reported 14 consecutive days of a moderate or low transmission rate of COVID-19 cases, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The current COVID-19 vaccination rate among children ages 5 and above in Charles County, according to local health department data, is 70 percent, while the percentage of children ages 12 and older in Charles County who are COVID-19 vaccinated is 76 percent. Additionally, the health department reports that 77 percent of adults ages 18 and older in Charles County are COVID-19 vaccinated. CCPS is not able to consider the first off-ramp.
CCPS will not consider the second option because the school system does not require its staff or students to be vaccinated for COVID-19, nor does the school system ask staff or students to disclose their COVID-19 vaccination status.
CCPS would consider following the third provided off-ramp in removing the mask mandate in schools. CCPS works with the health department to monitor COVID-19 case data and transmission rates and would consider lifting the mask mandate in schools once Charles County and the CDC report 14 consecutive days of a moderate or low transmission rate of COVID-19 cases.
CCPS moves to 50 percent spectator access Jan. 31
Starting Monday, Jan. 31, CCPS will allow a 50 percent maximum spectator capacity for in-person athletic and extracurricular activities. Capacity levels will be based on the venue or event location, and tickets to events will be sold online only on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets for high school athletic events can be purchased directly on individual high school athletic websites.
Any visitor or spectator to a CCPS building or event must wear a face mask at all times and social distance when possible. Additionally, concession sales will be allowed at events. However, no food or concession items may be consumed in school gymnasiums or auditoriums.
If Charles County COVID-19 positive case data continue to trend downward, CCPS will lift the 50 percent maximum capacity and allow 100 percent capacity limits to athletic and extracurricular activities starting Monday, Feb. 7. All COVID-19 safety guidelines will remain in place.
CCPS posts the most up-to-date COVID-19 information on its website at www.ccboe.com.