BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman issued a statement Thursday criticizing a mass text sent to parents that he said contained “disinformation about the status of masks” in public schools.

The county executive said the text message was sent Tuesday evening to a “number of families” throughout the county. “The message contained intentionally inaccurate and misleading information designed to confuse parents and students,” he said.

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Pittman’s statement came the day after Superintendent George Arlotto presented a recommendation to the Board of Education to require masking and at-home testing of students and staff if their school has a 5% or higher COVID-19 transmission rate.

The superintendent’s recommendation, which has the support of Anne Arundel County Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, is aimed at keeping more children in schools. It comes after the county saw 11 outbreaks at schools in the past week.

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The recommendation was met with resistance from parents, roughly two dozen of whom showed up to protest the proposed policy change.

Anne Arundel County Public Schools became the first school district in the state to lift its mask mandate in February as COVID-19 cases fell.

In Thursday’s statement, Pittman pointed out that while the health officer and others can make recommendations to the school board, it is ultimately up to the panel to decide whether to require masks or any other safety measures.

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“Our students and educators have spent the last two years under tremendous strain, and have responded with grace and perseverance time and time again,” Pittman said. “To those who sent this message to our families – this type of disinformation has no place in our community. Shame on you.”

CBS Baltimore Staff