A fundraiser next month held by Anne Arundel County Board of Education member Corine Frank with sponsorship tiers that include “stop masking kids” and “stop CRT” drew criticism Wednesday during a tense board meeting in Annapolis, where the merits of mandating masks for the 2021-2022 school year were discussed.
At the start of the month Superintendent George Arlotto announced that masks would be required for students and staff regardless of vaccination status this fall. County Health Officer Nilesh Kalyanaraman recommended the measure to prevent the spread of COVID, particularly the delta variant.
The delta variant is causing more severe symptoms across all age groups, Kalyanaraman told the board during an emergency work session Aug. 5. Federal health officials have not yet approved giving children younger than 12 any of the available COVID vaccines.
The move followed similar decisions by the state’s largest school systems and the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that students wear masks indoors this school year to prevent the spread of the delta variant.
Frank said during the board meeting Aug. 18 that she thinks students and staff should have the option, not requirement, of wearing masks, based on their medical history and because there is no longer a Maryland state mandate.
On Wednesday, Frank made a motion to instead make masks optional, which will be discussed again Sept. 1, a week before classes are scheduled to begin. The board can supersede Arlotto’s announcement.
During public comment Kristen Caminiti of Crofton urged the board to stick with Arlotto’s plan, criticizing Frank’s campaign against the measures.
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“And worse, she is exploiting that opposition to raise money,” Caminiti said.
Claudia Barber, Chair of the Anne Arundel County Branch of the NAACP’s Legal Redress Committee said a complaint has been filed to the committee about the anti-critical race theory fundraising advertisement and is under investigation by the committee.
When first advertised, the event was set to take place at The Rumor Reel in Pasadena. An online petition asking the restaurant to “condemn” Frank’s event, citing the ticket tiers “stop masking kids” and “stop CRT,” has more than 170 signatures.
Frank, whose term on the board lasts through December 2024, announced the “Back to School” fundraiser last week to benefit her campaign finance committee Friends of Corine Frank.
General admission tickets are $75, which includes appetizers and two drinks. The event includes a few sponsorship levels that offer dinner with former Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich before the reception: $250 is “fight for kids,” $500 is “stop masking kids” and $1,000 is “stop CRT,” which refers to the term critical race theory, which teaches that racism is embedded in many aspects of society and leads to different outcomes by race.
Frank, the executive director of the Maryland Republican Party, did not comment for this story.
As of Thursday afternoon, Frank’s website, www.corinefrank.com/backtoschool, has been updated and shows a new location for the event: Bella Napoli in Pasadena, one of the restaurants that filed a lawsuit against the county’s COVID-19 restrictions on dining at the end of last year.