By Paul Gessler

WESTMINSTER, Md. (WJZ) —  Carroll County schools will comply with the mask mandate, effective today, but not everyone is happy about it.

“Ecstatic, yes, masks,” said Lisa Sheffield, a Carrol County resident. “Carroll County, they lost saying they have to wear them, right? Thank you, god. Yes!”

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Reaction to Tuesday’s news approving a statewide mask mandate in schools is met with cheers from some parents in Westminster.

“Of course, I think there should be more precautions about it and I think they should be wearing masks in school, absolutely,” said Sara Insley, a Carrol County parent.

“The issue does lie beyond that one person’s choice and looking out for someone else’s safety and health is really important as well,” said Megan Graybeal, Carrol County parent.

The issue has turned divisive in Carroll County and beyond, drawing protests from parents and students.

“It’s ugly and it’s painful,” said Sheffield. “It doesn’t have to be this way. It has divided our people and our country so horrifically.”

“The kids are going to take in what their parents are saying and hopefully it doesn’t end in anything violent. That’s all I’m hoping,” said Carrol County resident Photious Roseboro.

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“The rates are getting higher every day,” said Ashley Chase, Carrol County resident.

In Carroll County, the COVID case rate is lower than the state average. But Somerset County, the other county where masks were optional in schools entering Tuesday: is seeing rates nearly three times the state average.

“How are the other kids gonna feel if they’re not wearing it and others are,” asked Carrol County resident Gerry Bunker. “It’s—I think it has to be one way or the other.”

Carroll County’s school board president said the county will comply with the decision, but in a statement said, in part, she is, “very disappointed and disheartened by the decision. Today’s action,” she continued, “definitely takes away local control and strongly affects parent choice.”

“I realize it’s an inconvenience for many of us to have to endure it, but nonetheless, we have to have faith in what they’re telling us to keep everybody safe,” said Graybeal. “We have to have faith in what they’re telling us to keep everybody safe.”

“Especially someone who has a degree and knows what they’re talking about, if they’re saying, ‘hey, you need to wear them,’ wear them,” said parent Kenny Spaulding.

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That legislative committee heard from a number of Carroll County parents and board members today, advocating for and against the mandate.

Paul Gessler