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Harford Co. officials facing calls to resign over mask policy for unvaccinated students in marching band

Posted at 1:01 PM, May 21, 2021

BEL AIR, Md. — Maryland State Delegates Lauren Arikan and Kathy Szeliga are calling for the resignation of Harford County Schools Superintendent Sean Bulson and County Health Officer David Bishai.

The delegates accuse both officials of publicly discriminating and shaming students of parents who chose to not have their children vaccinated.

Specifically, the criticism is directed at a school policy that mandates unvaccinated members of school marching bands to wear masks in order to participate in 4th of July parades.

"By forcing these students to wear PPE and masks in the heat of July simply to participate with the marching band during the outdoor 4th of July parades took things so far over the line. There is no possible way either of them should continue to serve our county," wrote the delegates.

Jillian Lader, Manager of Communications for Harford County Public Schools responded to WMAR-2 News with the following statement.

"In recognition of the positive impact of the vaccine, along with the risk of increased aerosolized virus transmission from playing wind instruments, HCPS collaborated with the Harford County Health Department to support marching band's participation in 4th of July parades."

Lader confirmed that students not fully vaccinated are required to wear masks, just as they have throughout their time playing instruments in school during the pandemic. She added those same students may need to quarantine if they've been exposed to COVID-19.

As for the PPE mentioned by the delegates, Lader said the school system would switch from having marching band members use woodwind bag style PPE to bell covers instead.

Currently, fully vaccinated students are allowed to participate without their masks and without quarantining unless they are feeling symptoms.

According to Lader, parents receive a COVID-19 acknowledgment letter and have to sign off for students to participate.

Arikan and Szeliga closed out their statement by urging their constituents to join in on their calls to have Bulson and Bishai resign.

"Harford County is not the place for anyone to be in a leadership position who thinks this is an acceptable policy for our students. We hope the community will join with us in calling for their immediate resignations so that our county can find more appropriate candidates for these positions better reflecting the values of Harford County."