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Public Health Expert Supports School Mask Mandate

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Dr. Tara Kirk Sell/Larry Canner for Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

A Johns Hopkins senior scholar supported the Maryland state school board’s recent decision to require in-school masking during a state Senate committee hearing Monday.

Dr. Tara Kirk Sell, of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told the Senate Committee on Education, Health and Environmental Affairs that local school systems may, at some point, ease mask requirements, based on the numbers of COVID-19 infections. But not yet.

“In Maryland,” she said, “with the Delta variant and current transmission levels, I really do think that universal masking is needed.”

But Sen. Bryan Simonaire, an Anne Arundel County Republican, questioned whether the mandate should apply statewide.

“Do you think it's best to have one policy across the state or have local jurisdictions looking at their particular jurisdiction and making those decisions based on science,” he wondered.

Sell said some flexibility might be good at some point, but not until the numbers improve.

“If it’s an overall sort of situation where we're not seeing the appropriate measures being put in place, then a larger, broader brush can be applied,” she said.

According to state health department statistics, every county in Maryland has a high rate of transmission of the disease.

Joel McCord is a trumpet player who learned early in life that that’s no way to make a living.
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