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Masks could come off soon in Baltimore County Schools

Credit Seth Sawyers/flickr

The Baltimore County Public Schools has a plan for when students and teachers can stop wearing masks in school buildings.

Masks can come off after the county has seen 14 consecutive days of moderate or low COVID transmission rates. School officials told the school board Tuesday night the county is nearing that threshold and the 14 day clock could start ticking as early as this week.

“We are very close,” said Michael Zarchin, the chief of school climate and safety.

Zarchin said the best-case scenario has masks becoming optional in school buildings around March 7.

“We will also continue to monitor when the masks come off. We don’t anticipate this but if the numbers go up, we may have to readjust.”

The school board rejected on a 7-4 vote a proposal by member Kathleen Causey that would have made masking optional March 1.

“I feel like our children have lost out and we need to try to make it right for them,” Causey said. “Anyone that feels that they need to wear a mask, whether its a cloth mask or an N95, they’re welcome to do it.”

Board members rejected Causey’s proposal, saying the school system needs to follow the science.

Board member John Offerman said, “I don’t think it’s appropriate to put a particular date since no one can predict what the science is going to say.”

“We can see the finish line and I worry about kind of jumping ahead of it,” said board member Erin Hager.

Even after masks become optional in the county schools, they still will have to be worn on school buses and in the nurse’s office.

The state board of education voted Tuesday to end its statewide masking mandate. A legislative committee has to approve the state board’s action. It is expected to take a vote on it Friday.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2
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