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Archdiocese Of Baltimore's Shift To Optional Masking Sparks Excitement

BALTIMORE (WJZ) – There's excitement in the air for some families after the Archdiocese of Baltimore announced it would transition to optional masking on Monday.

"We believe with the metrics as they are right now, that we can safely move to parental choice mask optional for students starting Monday," Dr. Donna Hargens, the superintendent of Catholic Schools, said.

Catholic School officials say their decision is based on declining COVID metrics in the state and guidance from health officials.

Staff and visitors will also have the option to wear a mask or not, regardless of their vaccination status.

"We want parents to really assess what their child needs and to make the decision for their child to be in a mask or not to be in a mask," Hargens said.

However, students in Baltimore will continue wearing face masks until Mayor Brandon Scott lifts his mask mandate.

"I think it's safe enough for kids to try to get back to normal," Gov. Larry Hogan said.

He took his message to CNN's Sunday morning show "State of the Union." Hogan has previously cited the state's improving health metrics as the Omicron-driven surge in cases and hospitalizations continues to wane as the reasons behind his shift in mask policy.

He has also noted that the pandemic has had an adverse impact on children, with school closures and other disruptions leading to learning loss and mental health challenges.

Hogan even wrote a letter to Board of Education president Clarence Crawford calling on her to rescind the mask policy.

"We're recommending very strongly that they lift it," he said on State of the Union.

On Thursday, parents in Howard County protested outside of a school board meeting. They called for an end to the mask mandate.

Chants at the rally included "unmask our kids" and "my child my choice." One parent at the rally told WJZ that if the county did not lift the mandate, they would send their children to school without masks.

For some people, the Archdiocese of Baltimore is taking a step in the right direction.

"I am delighted that these mandates are being dropped," Grandparent John Gaborick said.

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