Covid Mask Mandate at Elementary School Draws Ire of Some Republicans

(Bloomberg) -- A Maryland elementary school’s decision to impose a mask mandate after spate of Covid-19 cases has sparked a backlash from Republican governors and reignited a political debate that raged during the pandemic.

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Rosemary Hills Elementary in Silver Spring said it put in place a mask requirement for 10 days after three or more Covid-19 cases were reported during the first week of school, according to local media reports. The school also gave out at-home kits for rapid testing.

News of the mandate circulated on social media. In response to a post with a copy of a letter to parents from the school, Texas Governor Greg Abbott wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that it’s “not going to happen in Texas.”

A Texas law that took effect this month bans local governments from requiring Covid-related masking, vaccines and business shutdowns, according to the Texas Tribune.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders wrote on X: “Rest assured that as long as I’m Governor, Arkansas will not force our kids to wear masks in school.”

The decision in Maryland comes as the US reports an uptick in Covid-19 cases, as the new Eris variant becomes more common. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said new hospital admissions rose by 16% and deaths by 18% in the week through Aug. 26.

This week, the White House announced that First Lady Jill Biden had tested positive for Covid-19, while President Joe Biden tested negative and was taking steps to protect himself from a possible infection, like masking indoors.

More than three years into the pandemic, the use of face masks to prevent the virus’s spread remains a political flash point.

The CDC and the World Health Organization have urged people to wear masks in public — especially in crowded or poorly ventilated areas — but some states and localities have defied their advice, citing personal freedoms. Some question the effectiveness of masks, contrary to scientific evidence showing they can cut the risk of transmission.

Officials at Rosemary Hills Elementary didn’t immediately return a call and emails seeking comment.

--With assistance from Joe Carroll.

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