ACTION ALERT: SCHOOL MASK MANDATE
***For those of you who already know the seriousness & urgency of the situation with regards to school mask mandate in Garrett County, you can skip the following and scroll down to the template letter and BOE meeting details. PLEASE EMAIL YOUR LETTERS before 4pm on August 24th (Tuesday). Thank you!***
As you may know, school is right around the corner for Garrett County students (September 7th). Garrett County recently moved to “High Risk” level for Covid-19 transmission (according to the CDC’s COVID data tracker: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view). This places our unvaccinated population, particularly children and the immune suppressed, in grave danger.
Garrett County NAACP strongly stands in support of mask wearing in our schools. In order to protect children, staff, and the community at large, it’s imperative that our officials take action now and ensure the safety of their fellow citizens via school mask mandate.
On August 24th (Tuesday), Dr. Baker and the Garrett County Board of Education will have a meeting “to look at the current metrics and revise the school’s recovery and reopening plan any further when it comes to any of the safety protocols, including face coverings.”
We request that the BOE follow the metrics and require masks for all students and staff members in Garrett County schools for the opening of the 2021-2022 school year. Without a mandate, both the health of our community and the ability to keep school’s open will be placed in harm’s way.
The metrics? Vaccination rates in Garrett County are the lowest in Maryland, currently hovering below 41%. Even more concerning is that less than 20% of youth ages 12-17 are fully vaccinated.
Garrett County is seeing an increase in hospitalizations of infants and children. As of right now, there are more kids infected and sick with Covid-19 than this time last year.
The Delta variant can be summed up in 3 words: “younger, quicker, and sicker.” And as a rural community, we have limited access to proper care (which has already hit capacity in the Western Maryland region).
We’ve been through this already. We know the consequences – not only in-person school closures, but also the sickness and deaths our family members, friends, and fellow community members have already suffered – and we have to do better. The BOE can’t wait to see another person at death’s door in order to realize that this is a “real” emergency.
GCNAACP is asking our members to write in and attend the BOE meeting. We’re imploring our officials to put the health and safety of Garrett County children and their families first!
Below, you’ll find a sample letter. Please use all or portion of this sample to send your own email to the Garrett County Board of Education members and Superintendent before their meeting (Tues 4pm). Also, feel free to include this info in social media posts.
Dear Dr. Baker and Garrett County Board of Education members:
I am a resident of Garrett County, Maryland. The 8/11/21 REPUBLICAN reported that you will be having a meeting on August 24th “to look at the current metrics and revise the (schools recovery and reopening) plan any further when it comes to any of the safety protocols, including face coverings.”
I am writing to request that you mandate masks for all students and staff members in Garrett County schools for the opening of the 2021-2022 school year. Without mandating masks in our schools, community health and wellness will suffer as well as the continuity of education for our students.
Dr. Jennifer Corder has recommended mandating masks as one of several strategies to maximize protection of our students and staff. Recently, neighboring counties have instituted mask mandates for the opening of the school year — Allegany, Mineral, Monongalia, Preston, Fayette.
Garrett County’s full vaccination rate is the lowest in the State at 40.9%, and the rate of vaccination for students between 12-17 years old is less than 20%. With the upcoming school year upon us, the risk of community transmission of the Delta variant of COVID-19 is high with these low vaccination rates in our county.
“Younger, quicker & sicker” is the hallmark of the Delta variant. Rates of virus in children and hospitalizations of children are increasing in far Western Maryland. Far more children in Garrett and Allegany counties are infected and sick than this time last year!
Please put the health and safety of our children and their families first!
Email addresses for superintendent and Board of Ed members:
email@example.com (student member)
BOE MEETING DETAILS:
The Garrett County Board of Education will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, August 24, 2021 to discuss the Fall Recovery and Reopening Plan. The Board will meet in the Board Room at Central Office. The meeting is open to the public and will also be live-streamed for public review.
Public comment for the August 24, 2021 Board Meeting will be at 4:00 p.m. after which time the Board of Education will meet in executive session until 5:50 p.m. The Board of Education will reconvene for public session from 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Time is set aside during the public session for the hearing of constituents at 6:05 p.m. Please note, this time is approximate and public comment may occur earlier.
The agenda for the Public Session can be accessed on the Garrett County Public Schools website www.garrettcountyschools.org (go to the Board of Education page and select the link to Agenda).
It can also be accessed at BoardDocs – https://www.boarddocs.com/mabe/garrett/Board.nsf/Public. The agenda is not considered final until the Board takes action to accept it at the start of each meeting.
Part or all of the meeting may be closed pursuant to the General Provision §3-305 of the State Government Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland.
You can watch the livestream of GC BOE meeting on YouTube: https://youtube.com/channel/UCs0_zxA-XA6ws48_p7ajV3w
Thank you in advance for your action!
Garrett County NAACP Executive Committee