All Maryland public schools will now have a mask requirement after a state legislative committee voted in favor of the mandate. The mandate starts today (Tuesday, September 15th) and lasts for 180 days, until the end of February.
Carroll County public schools had previously made masks optional, but the new mandate overrides their decision.
The new rule requires all students, teachers, employees and visitors to be wearing a mask.
The decision came after a lengthy public video hearing with participants arguing both for and against the mandate, mainly centered on Carroll County.
"Does science show that it [wearing masks] helps protect children?" asked Cathy Goldsborough, who has four children. "The government is taking away our freedom...If we choose not to wear a mask, we should be able to choose not to wear a mask."
Cindy Shavatt, who has two young daughters, called the mask mandate "a good thing because they [children under 12] can't be vaccinated yet. So, I think it's great for them. They have to do it to be in the bus anyway, so I think it's OK."
The vote was 10-7 among the lawmakers present, with all Democrats in favor and all Republicans opposed. Ten votes are the minimum in order to pass a regulation.