Maryland school COVID outbreak causes national mask debate

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(NewsNation) — A COVID-19 outbreak at a Maryland elementary school is causing nationwide controversy.

Rosemary Hills Elementary School in Silver Spring is part of Montgomery County Public Schools, the largest school system in the state. A countywide policy requires masks during an outbreak, which is considered three or more cases in one classroom.

In a letter to parents Wednesday, the medical officer for Montgomery County Public Schools explained that students who can’t safely and consistently wear masks because of their age, a medical condition or developmental disability aren’t required to do so.

The mask policy doesn’t apply to the entire school. Rather, it’s isolated to those who were affected. They’re advised to wear their masks for the shortest period of time based on recommendations from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The position isn’t sitting well with Republican officials across the country, though.

Reacting to the policy, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, “Not going to happen in Texas.”

The news reached Capitol Hill too.

There, Republicans are pushing for a federal bill that would ban mask mandates in schools, on planes and on public transportation.

They’re calling it the “Freedom to Breathe Act.”

“If you want to wear a mask, wear a damn mask,” Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said. “But if you don’t, the government shouldn’t be forcing you to wear a mask. This is ridiculous virtue signaling.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has long defied coronavirus rules, particularly in public schools, took the issue to the campaign trail.

“There will be a reckoning for the harm they’ve done to kids in pursuit of a political agenda,” DeSantis said.

A new COVID–19 booster is expected to be available in the U.S. as soon as next week.

Rosemary Hills Elementary did not respond to NewsNation’s request for comment.

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