Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson has been clear, even while campaigning to be mayor, that he adamantly opposes mandating residents wear masks. On Friday, Aug. 6, he took issue with Anchorage School District Superintendent Deena Bishop’s insistence that all students must mask up in order to access public school buildings.
“My position has been, and will continue to be, very clear on the issue of COVID mandates,” Bronson posted on Facebook. “I am opposed to mandates. I am opposed to mandates masking our residents and our children. I am opposed to mandates shutting down our businesses.”
The newly elected conservative mayor also took aim at those who are increasingly agitating for vaccine mandates.
“I am opposed to mandating vaccinations,” he said. “Anchorage residents should be free to make their own decisions about their healthcare, about their families, and about their children’s education.”
Unlike policies set for the upcoming school year, summer school sessions were mask optional for students, staff and parents – vaccinated or not.
“Therefore, I strongly oppose the Anchorage School District’s back-to-school mask mandate and strongly encourage them to immediately reconsider,” he added. “Masking choice has been successful in the Anchorage School District throughout the summer school session and can be successful now.”
Superintendent Bishop admitted in a recent online post that the school district successfully ran its largest summer school program in years with more than 9,000 students participating in-person between June and August.
“During our summer school programs, we had less than 10 confirmed COVID cases and no known spread,” she said.
Unlike the policies she’s set for the upcoming school year, the summer school sessions were mask optional for students, staff and parents – vaccinated or not.
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When classes resume on Aug. 17, however, masks will be required of all students, staff, parents and visitors who darken the door of an Anchorage school or facility. Some limited exceptions may apply for educational purposes or when the fully vaccinated are separated. Additionally, masks won’t be required outside.
The mayor, however, noted that other large school districts have decided to make masking optional this fall. That includes schools in Mat-Su, Fairbanks and Kenai.
“This should be about parental and student choice,” Bronson said, “not top down government mandates.”
The Anchorage School Board has given the superintendent free reign to implement mask mandates despite the lone objections by School Board Member Dave Donley.
- To contact Superintendent Deena Bishop, call (907) 742-4312 or email email@example.com