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HCPSS Health and Safety Updates for 2021-2022 School Year

July 30th, 2021

Howard County Public School System Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano today outlined several health and safety updates for the 2021-2022 school year, including that, effective immediately, masks will be required in school buildings for all students, staff and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. This decision comes after new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Howard County Health Department, all of which strongly endorse universal indoor masking.

Masks also will be required while on school buses. Masks will not be required for any students or staff while eating/drinking indoors. Masks will not be required outdoors, however they are recommended for unvaccinated individuals.

“This is not a decision I made lightly. Getting our students back to school in person is a top priority,” said 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.

“The health and safety of our staff and students is of utmost concern,” he continued. “There is a rise in COVID-19 cases and we have a significant portion of students who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, which necessitates layering mitigation strategies. The use of face masks has proven to be an effective measure at preventing the spread of COVID-19 and universal indoor masking will aid in allowing us to keep schools open.”

HCPSS continues to carefully evaluate several considerations when making decisions, including guidance and recommendations from health professionals and experts at the CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics, Maryland Department of Health, and Howard County Health Department; and stakeholder feedback, including emails/phone calls from parents, students and staff.

In addition to universal indoor masking in school buildings, HCPSS will continue its process of ensuring readiness, reviewing protocols and ongoing monitoring of several items, including:

Superintendent Martirano will provide an update on health and safety measures during the Board of Education meeting, Thursday, August 12.

Information related to the 2021-2022 school year can be found online. Answers to many frequently asked questions also are available online. Both sites are being continually updated as new information becomes available.