TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Baltimore County Public Schools announced that universal masking will be required in all of its schools effective Tuesday.

“As we prepare to welcome students and staff back to school for in-person learning, universal masking is an important step to help maintain our community’s health and safety,” said BCPS Superintendent Dr. Darryl L. Williams. “All of us are reminded that although the use of masks is just one layer of protection, it is a crucial one.”

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The school system announced its updated policy at the end of July. The decision to make the mandate effective immediately is prompted by soaring key Covid metrics in the state. The system said Baltimore County is now within the CDC’s substantial transmission zone (50-99 cases per 100,000 residents).

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Officials also encouraged students over 12 to get vaccinated.

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“While universal masking supports our overarching goal of keeping students and staff safe, vaccination is still the most effective action we can take to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Supt. Williams. “We continue to urge everyone eligible to get vaccinated.”

CBS Baltimore Staff