BALTIMORE, Md. — The first day of school for many Maryland students is less than two weeks away and some state senators are calling on the state health secretary to mandate vaccines for students before they return to the classroom.
Tuesday night, members of the Maryland Senate Vaccine Oversight Workgroup held their first meeting since June.
Since their last meeting, the Delta variant has driven up Covid cases in the state.
The senators talked about the need for vaccine mandates, whether we could see a return to Covid restrictions statewide, and the question of booster shots.
With the first day of school for many school systems in the state only 12 days away, the workgroup brought up the need for mandatory vaccinations for students before they return to the classroom.
Baltimore County Public Schools now require all its employees to get vaccinated or undergo weekly Covid testing.
Last week, Howard County became the first school system in the state to make vaccinations a requirement for teachers and staff.
District 21 state senator Jim Rosapepe (D) called on State Health Secretary Dennis Schrader to make mandates uniform in all public school systems across the state.
Rosapepe said "why doesn’t the state just say if you're going to come back school buildings, middle school and high school, just like the university has done.. you get'em back in the building you gotta be vaccinated. Period. End of story. Or, religious exemption, I get all that, but I’m just saying the typical case, why don’t we apply the same thing the university is doing to the big kids, to protect the little kids."
Schrader said he's been advised that he does not have that power but would be open to continue the conversation.
District 12 state senator Clarence Lam (D) said “it seems to fairly, clearly articulate that you have the authority to do this. And, given that we are only a few weeks away, if not just a week or two from students, especially ones that can get vaccinated, the 17 to 12 age range going into schools, many of whom are not vaccinated, it seems like there’s no strategy here to get those students vaccinated.”
Schrader replied "senator, we're going to have to go back to talk to our lawyers on your assertion.”
There is a vaccination clinic on Thursday at Randallstown High School.
It’s part of a series of clinics being held at various schools throughout Baltimore County where the infection rates are high but the vaccination rates are low.
Governor Larry Hogan is schedule to provide an update on Covid in the state, Wednesday afternoon at 2 o'clock.