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Howard County Residents Rally Against School Mask Mandate

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WJZ) -- Parents in Howard County are rallying against school mask mandates Thursday night outside a Board of Education meeting, where school district officials will be discussing the mandate.

The crowd of about 50 people was calling on the county directly to repeal its mandate the same day Governor Larry Hogan called on the Maryland State Board of Education to rescind its mask mandate.

Hogan cited the state's improving health metrics as the Omicron-driven surge in cases and hospitalizations continues to wane.

Research-based off-ramps exist allowing Maryland's local school systems to remove mask mandates if 80% of the county is vaccinated or if the county's transmission rate is "low" or "moderate" for two straight weeks.

Over 80% of Howard County's eligible residents are vaccinated, but every county in Maryland still has high transmission of the virus, according to CDC data.

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.

"We are here fighting for parental choice," rally organizer Maggie Pierce said. "We want our kids to be able to go to school with the option to mask or not mask."

In Carroll County, the board of education voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a resolution to end the statewide mask mandate in public schools.

In response to Hogan's call to lift the mandate, the Baltimore Teachers Union shared an article Thursday from The New Republic with the quote: "Face masks keep kids safe from Covid-19 and keep schools open. There's no evidence they harm kids developmentally."

This is a developing story and will be updated.


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