(Brent Addleman | The Center Square) – As the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the decline in Maryland and across the U.S., Gov. Larry Hogan is asking the state’s Board of Education to rescind its mask mandate for students and staff.
The governor said the state’s dramatically improved health metrics, the availability of vaccines for school-aged children, and a growing consensus of medical professionals, parents and bipartisan officials factored into his decision to address the issue.
In a letter to Clarence Crawford, president of the state’s Board of Education, Hogan wrote, “A growing number of medical professionals, parents, and bipartisan state officials throughout the nation are calling for an end to school mask requirements. In light of dramatic improvements to our health metrics and the widespread availability of vaccines, I am calling on you to take action to rescind this policy.”
Neighboring states Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut have already moved to end mask mandates in schools.
According to the release, the number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 has dropped below 1,000, falling 71% since a high-water mark of nearly 3,500 were hospitalized in January. In addition, the state’s daily positivity rate sits at 5.12%, having dropped by 82% since January.
Hogan wrote in the letter that the pandemic has “presented unprecedented challenges” for the state and had the most impact on children, who have dealt with “failing grades, regressed social development, and increased mental health challenges.” The governor said he is working to reverse those issues moving forward.
“I applaud you for your efforts to support in-person instruction and your emphasis on social-emotional health,” Hogan wrote. “Now, it is critical to move toward normalcy for students and families by rescinding the school masking policy that was adopted by the State Board of Education in Dec. 2021, and enacted by the Maryland General Assembly’s Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review Committee (AELR). We must all learn to live with this virus, not in fear of it.”