Howard County schools and system offices will close Feb. 4 to allow for voters to cast ballots in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District special primary election.
The seat became open when Democratic U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, who represented the congressional district, died Oct. 17 of cancer.
The district covers portions of Howard and Baltimore counties, as well as areas of the city of Baltimore.
On election days, the Howard County Board of Elections uses nearly half of the 77 school buildings, according to the county’s online polling locator.
To prepare for the additional closure, the school system reached out to community partners that provide camps and other programs on days that school is closed to encourage them to provide opportunities Feb. 4.
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The Office of Food and Nutrition Services is exploring the possibility to offer free lunches to children under the age of 18 at various sites on the day of the special primary election.
The school system is planning to apply for a waiver for the closure with the Maryland State Department of Education.
Brandon Oland, spokesman for Baltimore County Public Schools, said that school system is still reviewing whether it will need to close for the election, saying, “We’d love to be open, if we could.”
He said the system is reviewing whether the special election will require the school system to close all its schools for the Feb. 4 vote.
Winners from the primary will advance to a special general election April 28, the same day as the regular statewide primary. Howard schools built in an April 28 closure when creating the 2019-20 academic calendar.
Twenty-four Democrats and eight Republicans filed before the Nov. 20 deadline to run in a special primary election in the 7th Congressional District.
Baltimore Sun reporter Phil Davis contributed to this article.