Howard County Public Schools follows Baltimore County in mandating masks this upcoming academic year

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Posted at 10:47 AM, Jul 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-30 10:49:04-04

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. — Howard County Public Schools on Friday said they would require masks for all students, teachers, staff, and visitors inside their buildings and buses this upcoming academic year.

The policy applies regardless of vaccination status.

“This is not a decision I made lightly. Getting our students back to school in person is a top priority,” said Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano. “We recognize in this case that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ I know not everyone is comfortable in a mask and appreciate our community’s cooperation as we continue to fight this pandemic.”

For now, masks will not be required outdoors on school property.

Baltimore County Public Schools made a similar decision Thursday.

MORE: Baltimore County Public Schools to require universal masking at start of academic year

It comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance calling for everyone in K-12 schools to wear masks regardless of vaccination status, due to a rise in COVID-19 cases across the country and the highly contagious Delta Variant.

Meals will remain free to all Howard County students and continue to be served and eaten in school cafeterias.

Students can also receive free voluntary COVID-19 tests if they begin to feel symptoms or have been around someone who has.

Before the start of the year, the school system will have replaced 12,439 air filters in the HVAC units serving all buildings.

At last check, there have been 266 cases of the Delta Variant detected in Maryland. The current overall COVID-19 positivity rate in the state sits at 2.73 percent.