On December 7th, the Maryland State Board of Education voted to further circumvent the rights of local jurisdictions and revise an emergency regulation passed earlier this school year. The updated regulation would continue to mandate masks for all Maryland students and staff for another 180 days, or at least for the duration of the 2021-2022 school year, and would amend COMAR to support this change.The revision would only allow for school superintendents to end their participation in the mask mandate if they can verify that 80% or more of their staff and students are vaccinated for Covid-19. While the amended regulation would permit local school boards to vote to end participation in the state board-issued mask mandate, they could only do so if 80% or more of their county’s population is vaccinated for Covid-19. In addition, the superintendent would be permitted to opt out of participation in the mask mandate, but only if the county’s community transmission rate, per the Maryland State Department of Health, is low or moderate during the previous 14 days. Any increase in transmission above those levels would require the superintendent to reimpose the mask mandate policy.While the CDC recommended masking in schools for all students and staff this year, Governor Hogan said he would not issue a statewide mask mandate and preferred to leave those decisions up to local districts. The law supports this.The final step requires the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review (AERL) to approve the emergency regulation proposal. The regulation cannot go into effect under law until the AERL approves the measure. A date has not been set for that meeting, but it is expected to occur in January.There is still time for you to voice your opposition to this measure!
Why ICM Opposes StateWIDE MASK POLICIES CONTINGENT ON VACCINATION STATUS
- This motion by the State Board of Education still circumvents the rights of individual jurisdictions to preside over their territory, requiring county officials to abide by state-imposed regulations to which some officials have expressed opposition.
- The use of medical face masks in community settings produces no statistically significant effect in reducing the rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
- Prevention measures used for adults do not necessarily confer benefit to children, and may expose children to unique risks; available data demonstrates better outcomes for children after Covid-19 infection, and incredibly low statistical risk of serious complications or death from Covid-19.
- A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics demonstrates that secondary transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in schools is extremely low. Children are at very low risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2, per The Lancet. The BMJ notes that children are incredibly unlikely to transmit SARS-CoV-2 through asymptomatic infection.
- Masking in schools does not protect families at home. Adults living with children have no increased risk of serious outcomes from Covid-19 compared with other adults.
- Continual masking confers risk reduction of contracting SARS-CoV-2 by a maximum .09 to .6 odds ratio. “Therefore, the strength of evidence for mask use and risk for SARS-CoV-2 in community settings remained insufficient,” according to the Annals of Internal Medicine.
- A compilation of data published in the International Journal of Environment Research and Public Health shows extended use of masks causes numerous adverse effects to both psychological and physical health.
- Verification of staff vaccination metrics would require all school staff members to submit their vaccination status to county and/or state officials.
- Parents retain the legal right to decide which healthcare interventions and prevention measures are best for their children. Medical decisions are private and should never be coerced.
- Comprehensive, meaningful long-term data on the safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines will not be available for years.
- Masking requirements should not be based on vaccination status, since no Covid-19 vaccine currently on the market prevents Covid-19 transmission or infection.
- Implementation and funding for programs which incentivize vaccines in schools populations should be subject to appropriate comprehensive legislative review under Maryland law, including review by the Health and Government Operations committee, not just a legislative review committee.
Who to contact about THIS MANDATE
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Please spread the word! Let’s flood the offices of Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review members with polite, respectful, forceful emails and phone calls. They need to hear our voices!
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