MSDE Votes to Send Face Covering Decisions to Local School Districts, GCPS Votes to Remove the Face Covering Requirement

Updated on Feb 24, 2022 at 9:05pm

During the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) Meeting Tuesday, February 22, 2022, the State Board voted to remove the statewide emergency face-covering requirement (COMAR 13.A.01.06, Face Coverings in School Facilities) in schools beginning March 1, contingent on legislative approval. The move was based on the latest metrics, vaccination rates, data, and research. The Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive & Legislative Review (AELR) of the General Assembly must review and approve repealing the emergency regulation for this to take effect. Governor Larry Hogan issued a statement thanking the State Board of Education and calling on the General Assembly (GA) to “act swiftly to ratify the State Board’s decision.”

At a special session earlier today, which was held in a virtual format and live-streamed for public view, Superintendent Barbara Baker recommended that Garrett County Schools adopt a similar resolution to make face-coverings (masks) optional for both students and staff pending the required approval of the AELR. In making her recommendation, Superintendent Baker thanked all employees and students for following the mandated face coverings since the beginning of the school year. She referenced the feedback she and the board members had received from parents and community members and asked the student board member to speak on behalf of the students. After a short period of deliberation, the Board voted unanimously to accept the Superintendent’s recommendation to remove the face-covering requirement in GCPS facilities.

It is important to note that GCPS must comply with the face-covering requirement in place by the state until repealed through the GA. The AELR is expected to act upon the State Board’s request on Friday, February 25, 2022, at 2:30 p.m. If the requirement is removed, masks will no longer be required in GCPS facilities as of Tuesday, March 1, 2022. However, due to federal transportation laws that remain in effect, masks would still be required by drivers and students while riding on all GCPS busses. If this federal law were repealed, GCPS would immediately follow suit.

The hearing for the AELR may be viewed via the Maryland General Assembly website.