Maryland school board approves regulation to let some schools drop mask mandates

The Maryland state school board approved a regulation that would allow schools to drop mask mandates under certain circumstances.

In a 12-1 vote on Tuesday, the board laid out the criteria schools would have to meet to take such a step, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Under the new regulation, the masking requirements for a school could be dropped if its vaccination rate, or the vaccination rate in the surrounding community, is higher than 80 percent, or if community spread of the virus in the area is considered to be moderate.

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Once a school hits an 80 percent vaccination rate or the community COVID-19 rate is deemed low or moderate for 14 days in a row, a superintendent would be able lift the mask mandate. A local school board could also vote to lift the mandate if 80 percent of the surrounding county is vaccinated.

“It gives the local communities something to shoot for,” Clarence Crawford, the state school board president, said. “We wanted to give them incentives to help drive the right behaviors in the community.”

The board's approval is not expected to change any mask mandates in the near future, however, as the regulation still needs to be approved by lawmakers and no school system in the state currently meets the criteria, according to the Sun. 

If state legislators do approve the regulation, it would go into effect immediately. But the General Assembly's Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review likely will not review the measure until January, Crawford said.

The regulation is supported by Republican Gov. Larry HoganLarry HoganLeft laughs off floated changes to 2024 ticket Hogan won't say if he will file to run for Senate by Feb. 22 deadline Some in GOP begin testing party's lockstep loyalty to Trump MORE and comes after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been approved for those as young as five years old.

Mask mandates in schools have been a source of contention, as some governors have banned them, leading to several lawsuits around the country.