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Hogan’s lifting of mask mandate will endanger schoolchildren and others | READER COMMENTARY

Gov. Larry Hogan announces on Tuesday, June 15 that most of the remaining COVID-19 restrictions and orders will end on July 1. That includes the statewide mask mandate. (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun)
Gov. Larry Hogan announces on Tuesday, June 15 that most of the remaining COVID-19 restrictions and orders will end on July 1. That includes the statewide mask mandate. (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun) (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun / Baltimore Sun)

Gov. Larry Hogan’s announcement removing a mask mandate for schools, sadly, will unnecessarily put children, school staff and families at greater risk in the fall, just when back-to-school would bring back in-person education (”Maryland to lift most COVID restrictions, including mask requirements, on July 1, as statewide case numbers decline,” June 15).

Vaccination rates are low to nonexistent among children, and the SARS-CoV-2 virus is just as virulent and more so with the rapidly expanding Delta variant, originally detected in India, and which more severely affects young people. This ill-thought-out, premature decision will also disproportionately affect minority students and adults at most risk.

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I wish the pandemic were over. But it is not. State leaders should reconsider and require masks and other mitigation — which have been extensively proven to help prevent transmission — in all school settings this fall and for summer school where students facing other risks should be fairly protected.

While COVID-19 positive rates are currently low, dropping prevention efforts will only allow cases to rise again, experts warn. And even with increasing vaccinations, the Delta variant has a higher “breakthrough rate” for infection.

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Please do not increase risk for young Marylanders at such an essential time and resist the politicizing of such important decisions. Reinstate universal masking in schools and do the right thing to protect the health of children, teachers, staff and families throughout the state.

Joanne C. Simpson, Towson

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