Republicans press for DC to remove mask mandates for children

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EXCLUSIVE: Republicans on the House Oversight and Reform Committee are calling on Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser to end the district’s mask requirements on schools, especially as D.C. already rolled back mandates at bars and sporting venues.

“It makes no sense for adults to patronize bars or watch sporting events without masks while children are required to go to school with them,” the GOP lawmakers wrote to Bowser in a letter obtained by Fox News Digital. “The District should immediately do away with requiring masks for children in school and allow them to return to normal.”

The letter was authored by Rep James Comer, R-Ky., the top Republican on the committee that has oversight over municipal affairs of the District of Columbia. He was joined by 14 other Republican members.

Letter to Bowser by Fox News

The lawmakers say children are the least likely to be harmed by COVID-19 but the most harmed by mask-wearing, with risks to children’s development, speech and education. 

Bowser’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

House Oversight and Reform Committee Ranking Member James Comer, R-Ky., during a hearing on Capitol Hill on May 12, 2021 in Washington, D.C. 
(Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images)

The lawmakers previously asked Bowser to withdraw vaccine mandates for DC indoor venues, which she eventually did on Feb. 14.

When Bowser lifted the short-lived vaccine mandate she announced that the city will lift its mask requirements for many public venues, including bars, restaurants and schools on March 1, citing the drop in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. 

“Because of that diligence that we have seen since the height of omicron wave entered the district in December, cases have dropped more than 90% and there has been a 95% reduction in hospitalizations,” Bowser said on Feb. 14. “We are in a much better place now.”

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But the district will still require masks at “schools, childcare facilities and libraries,” as well as healthcare facilities, jails, and on public transit. The youngest of children still do not have access to the coronavirus vaccine. Bowser was asked about when the district might lift mask mandates in schools. 

DC Mayor Muriel Browser listens during a public safety briefing at the Marion S. Barry, Jr., Building in Washington, DC, on July 28, 2021. 
(Olivier DOULIERY / AFPvia Getty Images)

“That’s a good question,” she said at the time. “We continue to work with our school communities over what they think it will take to keep kids safe and in school. We thought that our last group of little ones would have access to the vaccine in February. It turns out it’s going to be sometime later. So I don’t think that we’re going to have a decision about schools sometime soon.”

Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report. 

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