February 23, 2022 Community Update: Update on Mask Requirements in BCPS

February 23, 2022 Community Update: Update on Mask Requirements in BCPS 

Dear Parents, Guardians, Staff, and Students:

The Maryland State Department of Education’s Face Coverings in School Facilities regulation provides guidance on when local school districts can consider lifting masking requirements based on 7-day transmission rates and other key metrics. On February 10, 2022, Baltimore County’s COVID-19 case rate dropped below 100 cases per 100,000 residents, moving the county out of the CDC’s high transmission category and into the substantial transmission category. Health officials from the Baltimore County Department of Health (BCDH), and health experts from Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland believe that if rates continue to decline at this pace, Baltimore County will enter the moderate transmission category as soon as the end of this month.

Yesterday, February 22, 2022, the Board of Education of Baltimore County discussed action taken by the Maryland State Board of Education to rescind its emergency mask mandate. The Maryland General Assembly’s Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review (AELR) committee must approve the decision and determine what date the mandate would be lifted statewide. If the committee approves the MSDE decision, local school districts will have the ability to make an independent decision about mask mandates. 

Based on the county’s improved metrics and recent action by the State Board of Education, BCPS is making the following updates to its mitigation plan:

  • Masks/face coverings will be optional in schools and offices the first school d ay after Baltimore County has 14 consecutive days of COVID-19 case rates in the moderate or low transmission levels (less than 50 cases per 100,000 residents over 7 days).  BCPS will notify the community once the county has met this metric.  
  • Masks will still be required on school buses (in alignment with federal requirements).
  • Masks will still be required in school health rooms (in alignment with CDC guidance).

BCPS will continue to take the following steps to protect the health of students and staff: 

  • Increase Access to Vaccines:  BCPS, in collaboration with the Baltimore County Department of Health, will host additional school-based vaccine clinics.
  • Monitor Disease Trends and Guidance from Public Health Leaders: BCPS will continue to monitor disease trends and update its mitigation plan in response to the data and guidance from the county and state health departments as well as the Centers for Disease Control.
  • Distribute Additional KN95 Masks: BCPS will continue to order and distribute KN95 masks to students and staff who are interested in wearing a higher filtration mask that offers an additional layer of protection.
  • Utilize Comprehensive Health and Safety Strategies: Our multi-layer efforts include improved ventilation, enhanced cleaning, COVID-19 testing, case monitoring, contact tracing and quarantine.  Visit our COVID-19 website for more information.

Here is what you can do to help:

  • Get Vaccinated:  As of late January, approximately 44 percent of BCPS students have received one or more COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccine remains the most effective way to protect yourself and your family from severe disease and death.  All members of team BCPS are encouraged to get a COVID-19 vaccine and booster, when eligible.  Scheduling an appointment for COVID vaccines, including booster shots, can be done online at the Baltimore County COVID-19 Vaccine Hub.
  • Mask Use for Individuals with High Risk: Although mask wearing will become optional when case rates drop, they are encouraged for certain persons and in certain settings.  Individuals with higher risk for severe disease and those with a higher risk family member are encouraged to continue to wear masks.  Mask wearing should also be considered at crowded indoor events.  Higher filtration masks, like the KN95, offer stronger protection against the virus.
  • Stay Home if Sick: All students and staff are expected to stay home if they are sick.  If you have symptoms of COVID-19, please stay home and contact your healthcare provider to determine if you should be tested.

We greatly appreciate the support of all members of Team BCPS over the past two years.  Working together, we have been able to safely return to in-person learning, keep school buildings open through the Omicron surge, and are now able to plan for the lifting of some COVID restrictions.

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