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Group Of Maryland Parents Sues Board Of Education Over Mask Mandate

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A coalition of parents filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the Maryland State Board of Education's public school mask mandate.

"The patience of parents has really begun to run out and they are eager to put an end to this," said attorney Ed Hartman III, who's representing a group going by Coalition of Maryland Parents.

This comes less than a week after Gov. Larry Hogan called for the same action, citing declining COVID-19 metrics, the widespread availability of vaccines for school age children and concerns about the emotional well-being of Maryland students.

"I applaud you for your efforts to support in-person instruction and your emphasis on social-emotional health. Now, it is critical to move toward normalcy for students and families by rescinding the school masking policy," wrote Hogan in a letter to the Maryland State Board of Education.

The board's current policy allows schools to lift the mask mandate if at least 80% of the county population is vaccinated, if 80% of the school staff and students are fully vaccinated and if the county has gone 14 consecutive days with moderate to low transmission rate of COVID-19.

In  a press release Friday, the board explained the "off-ramps" were made using science, research, and guidance from public health experts, including the CDC and the Maryland Department of Health.

The group of parents opposing the face covering requirement in classrooms wants to be able to choose.

"There are many parents who may believe they want their children to still wear masks and they will have that option afterwards. What we don't want is for children to be required to wear masks in school and allow the parents to make that decision," said Hartman.

Shirletta Carrington, a parent who spoke with WJZ, said she plans to continue send her kids to school with a mask on.

"Every week the school is sending new cases of kids getting sick," she said.

Each month, the board of education reviews the current COVID-19 metrics at its meeting. There will be a discussion about the face covering requirement during the next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 22.

WJZ reached out to the Maryland State Board of Education for comment on this latest lawsuit but did not immediately hear back.

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