Anchorage Mayor Bronson said in social media posts Friday evening that he opposes the school district’s policy requiring students, staff and others to wear masks indoors as classes begin, and urged the school district to “immediately reconsider” its plans.
As part of a broader mitigation plan released last weekend by Superintendent Deena Bishop, masks will be required for all people inside Anchorage School District buildings, with few exceptions, starting Aug. 9. The Anchorage School Board on Tuesday backed that policy, after hearing hours of testimony from parents, students, staff and others, much of it anti-mask.
Bishop in her announcement cited both the rise of COVID-19 cases in Anchorage and the delta variant, in addition to a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that all people in K-12 schools wear masks indoors, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated.
In a Facebook post, Bronson said he has been consistent in his opposition to COVID-19 mandates, and “I am opposed to mandates masking our residents and our children,” he said.
“Anchorage residents should be free to make their own decisions about their health care, about their families, and about their children’s education,” Bronson said. “Therefore, I strongly oppose the Anchorage School District’s back to school mask mandate and strongly encourage them to immediately reconsider.”
“Masking choice has been successful in the Anchorage School District throughout the summer school session and can be successful now,” Bronson said. “Moreover, student masking remains optional in various other school districts across Alaska. This should be about parental and student choice, not top down government mandates.”
Bishop was not available for comment Friday evening.
Bronson has issued a mayoral directive that no masks are required in city buildings, but that does not apply to school district buildings, Matt Shuckerow, interim spokesman for the mayor’s office, said in an email earlier this week.
“Under Alaska law, Anchorage School District has management authority of its budget and its district-wide operations,” Shuckerow said. “Thus, the school district determines its own policies in school district buildings and the school district is not under the authority of the mayor’s directive regarding masks in MOA buildings.”