ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WJZ) — WJZ spoke with a father from Howard County who wants school leaders to bring back virtual learning. He said his daughter has such a bad case of COVID-19, she ended up in the emergency room.

“Why wouldn’t it be scary for a parent? Charles Adams said. “That’s my oldest daughter.”

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Long Reach High School senior Grace Johnson just tested positive for COVID-19.

Her father is concerned she got it at school.

He took her to the emergency room Thursday morning because of her severe symptoms.

“At the hospital,” Adams said. “They told me I could not go in the back with my daughter, at the hospital, but, my kids can go to school with kids with COVID and it’s okay.”

In an effort, to keep schools open and protect the students, a General Assembly panel voted Wednesday to extend Maryland’s school mask mandate for 180 days.

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Grace’s father said that’s not enough, he wants schools to return to virtual learning.

“A mask cannot cover this problem,” he said.

Grace’s sister, Amber, is also a student at Long Reach High.

“When you go inside the school, it’s really crowded, there is no separation between anybody,” Amber said. “You can just be up on anybody. People are not wearing their masks correctly.”

Amber likes going to school in person, but seeing her sister get so sick makes her feel learning in person isn’t the safest.

“I do care about my education and I know going online is going to affect a lot of things,” Amber said. “But, I also know that for us going to school is risking our lives and we can’t have an education if we’re dead.”

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The mask mandate will last through the end of the school year, however, schools do have an opportunity to have their mandates lifted if the school and the county it is in meets certain criteria for vaccinations and case transmission rates.

Jessica Albert