KCPS does not qualify for new mask regulation exemptions

Kent County Public Schools students have worn masks all year due to COVID-19 protocols. Pictured above, Rock Hall Elementary School students are provided hand sanitizer on the first day of the 2021-22 academic year.

ROCK HALL — The Maryland State Department of Education has proposed face mask regulations to replace the current emergency regulations, with three options for exemptions.

Superintendent Karen Couch met with Health Officer William Webb of the Kent County Health Department to discuss the exemption implications for Kent County Public Schools.

“We do not meet those (regulations) for requesting a waiver for the requirement to wear a mask,” Couch said Monday night during the Board of Education meeting.

The three regulation exemptions are: having 80% of a county’s total population being vaccinated; a principal verifying 80% of a school’s staff and students are vaccinated; and having 14 consecutive days of a “moderate” or “low” transmission rate of COVID-19 cases in the county.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 63.9% of Kent County’s population is fully vaccinated.

Of those school-aged children who are eligible to get vaccinated, 70% of those 12 and older have been fully vaccinated. While only 66.5% of those 5 and older have been fully vaccinated, vaccinations for those age ranges only have been available since November.

Vaccinations for those 12 and older have been available since May 2021.

Kent County’s community transmission rate remains “high.”

Couch told the BOE members that if the county were to reach 14 consecutive days of “moderate” or “low” transmission and rates were to go back up, masks would be required again.

The exemptions under this option would be rolling.

In Kent’s public schools, there have been 54 reported cases of COVID-19 in the 2021-22 academic year, according to the dashboard on the KCPS website. There is no breakdown between students and staff.

As of press time Wednesday, there were 1,923 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kent County and 54 deaths, according to the Maryland State Department of Health’s website.

Kent, the least populous county in the state, has had the least number of confirmed cases of COVID-19.

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