In a 3-2 vote, the Somerset County Board of Education passed a policy that will comply with the statewide mask mandate.
The board met virtually on Sept. 28 for the rescheduled open session of the Sept. 21 meeting, which was postponed after several people in attendance refused to wear masks.
Board members Penelope Nicholson, Troy Brittingham Jr. and Margo Green-Gale voted to approve the policy, while Caleb Shores and William McInturff voted against the policy.
Before the board voted, Nicholson asked board attorney Fulton Jefferson what the ramifications could be if the board went against the mandate.
Jefferson said he believed the state could withhold funding and remove board members who voted against complying with the mandate.
Though Nicholson voted to adopt the mandate, she said she “shares the hope” that the mandate will be lifted soon.
“We really don’t have a choice (in adopting the mandate),” Nicholson said.
Shores raised concerns that the Maryland State Board of Education is overreaching in its power.
“We have constituents we represent, each and every one of us. The state… they only represent themselves and their agenda, and leave us here to try to battle with our constituents on what we can and can’t do,” he said. “This is a bad position for all of us to be in.”
SALISBURY UNIVERSITY:Masks required in fall regardless of vaccination status
On Sept. 14, a joint committee in the General Assembly voted to approve the state board’s decision to mandate masks in all Maryland public schools.
Somerset County Public Schools initially made masks optional for all students, staff and visitors. The superintendent announced this decision in August, and the school board upheld it unanimously in early September.
However, the district has acted in compliance with the state mandate since Sept. 15.
Masking debates aren’t limited to Somerset County. Parents in Wicomico and Worcester counties have raised concerns with the mask mandate.
In Wicomico County, over 100 people showed up at the last open session, many speaking out against the mandate.
Maddie Aiken covers education for Delmarva Now/The Daily Times. Have a story tip or idea? Send it her way at email@example.com, 443-454-1157 or on Twitter @madsaiken.