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COVID rates increasing in Baltimore County but no masking requirements planned

Students, some wearing masks, others not, attend a groundbreaking last week at Summit Park Elementary School. Credit: John Lee

The number of positive COVID tests in Baltimore County schools has shot up, from 89 the last week in March to nearly 1,200 in early May.

Despite that, masks remain optional in county school buildings, though they are strongly recommended in more than 40 schools because of COVID outbreaks, according to Charles Herndon, school system spokesman.

Meanwhile, Baltimore County’s COVID-19 positivity rate is nearly 10%, higher than the statewide average of 8.55%, yet County Executive Johnny Olszewski agrees with School Superintendent Darryl Williams that masks should remain optional.

Williams said they are considering masking recommendations on a school-by-school basis.

“If we see an uptick, we work with our health officials and then we’ll make some decisions,” Williams said.

Olszewski said he is tracking hospitalization rates and they remain low, so there are no plans to require masks again in county buildings or other public places.

“While cases are up, hospitalizations have not been,” Olszewski said. “We should be respectful of those who are choosing to wear masks regardless of the reasons out there in public.”

Olszewski said his main message remains the same: get vaccinated and boostered.

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