As the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations keep on going down in the U.S., almost all the states have moved to change pandemic restrictions.
The Maryland State Board of Education voted on Thursday to allow local school districts to decide if students still need to don face masks in school. It also proposed to end an emergency order to a legislative committee.
The board voted to rescind the order 12-1 on March 1, citing positive COVID-19 trends.
The Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review of the state’s General Assembly has planned a virtual hearing and vote regarding the request for Friday.
“This action aligns with the data and the science, the recommendation of the State Superintendent of Schools, and the guidance of medical professionals across the country,” Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement regarding the matter.
Under the current policy, local school systems in Maryland can decide whether they want to end the mask requirement if COVID-19’s spread is moderate to low in 14 consecutive days or if vaccination rates are over 80% in the school or community.
Back in May, the state ended its indoor mask mandate.
Several other U.S. states have revealed their plans to lift statewide mask mandates in schools. These states include Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, and Oregon.
In California, which is the first U.S. state to officially shift to an “endemic approach” in handling COVID-19, officials previously delayed having a decision regarding mask regulations.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s Health and Human Services Secretary, made an announcement online, saying his department would review whether the current policy needs to change on Feb. 28.
“This is not a decision we take lightly, it is not a decision that is a hasty one,” he said while noting that the state’s vaccination rates for kids are still low and that the CDC still recommends masking in schools.
The indoor mask requirement in California has already been lifted for most settings for people who are vaccinated.
Those who are unvaccinated will still need to wear a mask indoors. Additionally, everyone, unvaccinated or not, will still need to wear a mask in higher-risk settings.
Meanwhile, local governments can still implement their own indoor mask requirements as health officials from Los Angeles County said they would. On Tuesday, Supervisor Janice Hahn tweeted that the Department of Public would release a new health order that allows vaccinated people to remove masks indoors at places where proof of vaccination is being checked.
The said order would likely “take effect Friday,” and she also mentioned that it puts the county “significantly closer to aligning with the state.”