CARROLL COUNTY, Md. — The Carroll County Board of Education is moving forward with its plans to keep mask wearing optional in schools. However, the school board passed a motion to require masks only if the statewide mandate becomes law.
“I heard people say that it’s inevitable that we are going to have some cases, some outbreaks. I think that will be to be true unfortunately whether we’re masked or not,” said Dr. Patricia Dorsey, who is a board member.
With the passage of the motion, the board is also asking for an exemption from a statewide mask mandate in the event it’s approved.
The district will also look to have the flexibility to lift the mandate after 30 days which could be contingent on health metrics in the county.
“We were successful last year even though we were criticized and laughed at on a local level and state level,” said board member Ken Kiler, who referenced the district’s success with in-person learning last school year. “We made it work and I think we could’ve made this work. I wish we get the opportunity to prove that we could.“
The State Board of Education voted for a statewide mask mandate in schools last week. The mandate still needs to be approved by a committee made up of state legislators.
The vote is scheduled to be held on September 14th
“Our biggest fear is if this is what the state board is going to do is try to implement a mask mandate who is to say that they would not implement a vaccine mandate on our teachers and our staff and our kids,” said board member Tara Battaglia.
Several board members voiced their displeasure with the state board decision, calling it government overreach.
There were also board members, along with the superintendent, who believed the district should require masks to be consistent and to prevent more kids needing to be quarantined than necessary.
“I plan to urge this board to pursue any and all remedies to push back to what I strongly believe is gross overreach of power that is nothing short of bullying a small community,” said board member Donna Sivigny.
“There’s pros and cons of the masks and no masks, but I think if I would want to err, I want to err on the side of caution,” Dr. Dorsey stated.
All of the board members agreed the mask debate has been divisive, which led members to remind everyone to be respectful of one another no matter what the decision is moving forward.