Group of parents and students demand end to mask mandate in schools at Annapolis rally – CBS Baltimore

ANNAPOLIS, Maryland (WJZ) – A group of parents and students gathered outside Maryland’s State House on Thursday to demand an end to the public school’s mask mandate.

“We are a community of freedom-fighting parents,” said Julie Bennett of Howard County.

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The rally started at 10:30 a.m. and lasted about 2 hours.

Parents and some of their children from several different counties held signs, some of which read “Please let us choose” and “Let our children breathe”, while others chanted “No more masks”.

The group called on Governor Larry Hogan to draft an executive order to lift face covering requirements in schools, while lobbying the Maryland State Board of Education.

“I can’t have the experience of being a child that other people have,” said third-grade student Isabella Pedone.

The rally comes a week after Hogan wrote to the board asking for the term to be rescinded.

The basis for Hogan’s request was the decline in COVID-19 measures, the widespread availability of vaccines for school-aged children, and concerns about the emotional well-being of Maryland students.

In part, he wrote to the State Board, “I commend you for your efforts to support in-person teaching and your focus on social-emotional health. Now it is essential to move on to normalcy for students and families by repealing the school masking policy. »

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Current board policy allows local school districts to waive the mask mandate if at least 80% of the county’s population is vaccinated, 80% of school staff and students are fully vaccinated, and the county has spent 14 consecutive days with moderate to low transmission. COVID-19 rate.

The school board discusses COVID-19 measures and the current mask mandate at their monthly meetings. The next one is scheduled for Tuesday, February 22.

WJZ asked if the discussion and review of the mask mandate would take place sooner than its next scheduled meeting, but we have yet to hear back.

Other efforts to end the mask mandate in public schools include a lawsuit, which challenges the school board’s requirements.

“There are a lot of parents who may believe that they want their children to always wear masks and they will have that option afterwards. What we don’t want is for kids to be required to wear masks in school and allow parents to make that decision,” said attorney Ed Hartman III, who represents the Coalition of Maryland Parents. .

The complaint was filed Tuesday.

On Wednesday evening, the Anne Arundel County School Board voted 8-0 to remove the mask mandate from its public schools.

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Anne Arundel County Public Schools Superintendent George Arlotto recommended the rule be lifted, saying the county meets the requirement to have 80% of its population vaccinated.

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