Anchorage School District considers masking policy for fall

The Anchorage School District is considering what their mask policy for this fall will be.
The Anchorage School District is considering what their mask policy for this fall will be.(ktuu)
Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 5:14 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - New guidance Tuesday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all students and staff wear masks in school, whether they are vaccinated against COVID-19 or not. The new recommendation comes just as Anchorage School District Superintendent Deena Bishop is getting set to release her recommendation for the coming Anchorage school year.

Bishop said whether to require masks for the fall is a decision that shouldn’t be rushed, and is a difficult one to make.

“I just want people to know this isn’t Deena Bishop singularly creating a rule,” she said. “It literally is a study of data, talking with experts, listening to our parents, and listening to our employees, and coming up with the best manner that we can do school and have kids successfully complete a year safely.”

Bishop said she was encouraged by the district’s summer learning programs where, despite thousands of students enrolled, there were less than 10 positive cases of COVID-19. She said all of them, with the exception of one case, were among unvaccinated staff members.

Bishop said the district is not discussing whether vaccines should be required for students or staff, adding that the best way to keep schools open is to stay home when someone is sick. Her recommendation on masking will go to the Anchorage School Board to be discussed at their Aug. 3 meeting.

School Board President Margo Bellamy said the board has scheduled a two-hour work session to take up the superintendent’s plan before the regular meeting which begins at 6 p.m. Public testimony will be taken during the meeting which people must sign up for in advance at the board’s website.

Bishop said schools will return to their regular times and regular schedules this fall, as they were in 2019 before the pandemic. There will be no capacity restrictions.

“School is going to look like school,” she said. “Students are going to have lockers, students are going to go to PE. We are playing sports, we are playing music, we are having bands … It’s going to be school like they’ve known it.”

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