MGA Legislative Committee Extends School Mask Mandate, Adds Off-Ramps

This morning, a joint legislative committee extended emergency regulations to continue the State’s mask mandate in all of Maryland’s public schools, and approved new off-ramps for masking.

The General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review (AELR) Committee voted to continue the State’s masking policy for public school facilities, and added new off-ramps for local education agencies (LEAs). The State Board of Education approved the set of regulations at its December 7 meeting.

The committee engaged in a robust discussion with State Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury and State School Board Chair Clarence Crawford, during which the two reiterated their goal of keeping Maryland’s public schools open for in-person learning.

Discussion was followed by a public hearing with a series of witness testimony in favor and in opposition of the new regulations.

Ultimately, the joint committee voted 11-5 to approve the regulations. The new regulations immediately went into effect.

The emergency regulations stipulate off-ramps for locals via three main pathways:

  • At the individual school-level, for which a school would have to reach 85% of staff and students to be vaccinated;
  • At the jurisdiction-level, for which the county would have to reach 80% or above vaccination, at which time the county board of education could move to lift masks in schools; and
  • Based on transmission rates: should a jurisdiction not meet requirements for vaccination, but transmission data shows the county is at a low-risk, the county superintendent could move to lift masks.

The regulations have a 180 day cap, at which time, or before, the Board and MSDE can revisit them based on evolving COVID data.

The new set of regulations will replace a current policy, passed and adopted in September that requires masks to be worn in all public school facilities, with no local exceptions or off-ramps.

Stay tuned to the Conduit Street Blog for future coverage on masking in schools.

Video of the January 5 AELR meeting is available online.

  • Discussion of the regulations starts around 16 minutes.
  • Public testimony starts around one hour.
  • Voting happens around one hour, 15 minutes.

Access the meeting agenda and materials.

Prior Conduit Street coverage on masking in schools: