When school begins on August 30 in Washington County, Maryland, everyone will be required to wear a mask. This is a reversal by the Washington County Public Schools. On August 6, they announced at a school board meeting that mask-wearing would be “optional.” That option has been revoked because COVID-19 numbers in Washington County are rising. As of this morning, the positivity rate in the county is 6.47%.
The school system issued the following video explaining the policy change:
Masks aren’t foolproof, especially when mask-wearing is not incorporated with social distancing. Schools don’t have to practice social distancing. Even though the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 is much more contagious than the original virus, students only have to remain three feet from others. The CDC established the three-feet rule for students before the Delta variant made landfall in the United States.
The underlying problem we have in Washington County is not enough people are getting vaccinated for COVID-19. Currently, only 44.3% of people age 12 and up in Washington County are vaccinated for COVID-19.
That number is far too low. We’re not going to see the other side of this pandemic until most people are vaccinated.
I think it’s dumb not to require students age 12 and up to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Not requiring students to be vaccinated is creating a dangerous environment for students. At the very least, students should be assigned to classrooms based on their vaccination status—unvaccinated students in one classroom and vaccinated students in another.