By AlaskaWatchman.com

An estimated 30 to 35 Mat-Su parents, students and others turned out for a 7 a.m. protest rally outside Career Tech High School on Aug. 31.

Students and parents take part in an Aug. 31 protest against mask mandates at Career Tech High School.

As cars and busses arrived, they were welcomed by signs that read “Unmask our kids,” “No more face diapers,” “Oxygen is Essential,” and many others. According to organizers, the goal was to urge the school to stop forcing students to wear masks throughout the academic day. If the friendly honks and thumbs ups were any indication, many Mat-Su residents agreed with the protesters.

Parents who have children attending the school say students have only had a single maskless day since the academic year began on Aug. 18.

According to the Mat-Su Borough School District website, any school that is deemed “medium risk” must require masks in classrooms and throughout the building. If a single student tests positive for COVID, this can be enough to classify a school as “medium risk” and trigger the mask mandate. On average, the medium risk schools have had about 8.4 students test positive per week. Career Tech has 13 students who have tested positive over the past seven days.

Students, parents and others take part in an Aug. 31 protest against mask mandates at Career Tech High School.

As of Sept. 1, the district’s website reports that 21% of Mat-Su schools are currently classified as “medium risk,” with 10 schools now mandating masks. Butte Elementary and Glacier View are only school deemed “high risk” and both schools have been temporarily shuttered. Another 35 schools are in the “low risk” category which only recommends masks but does not require them.

Scores of studies have been published indicating that mask wearing is ineffective against viruses, these include reports from the CDC and the National Institute for Health. Protest organizers aim to highlight this fact on Tuesday.

“Mask worn all day at school impair COGNITION, cause rashes, acne, skin breakdown, headaches and (are) again DEEMED INEFFECTIVE,” organizers stated.

Last week Mat-Su School Superintendent Dr. Randy Trani said he has had to walk a fine line with regard to mask mandates. Speaking during an Aug. 24 Zoom meeting with state health officials, he said the district is attempting to get as many kids as possible back in public schools, but said there is a “significant portion of our families who won’t put their kids in schools with masks in place.” He cited a June survey of Mat-Su parents that showed they were “dramatically against masks.”

Nevertheless, he said the district has implemented its alert level system as a way to try and keep schools open and maskless as much as possible, while retaining the power to mandate masks and close schools when he and district leadership deem it necessary.

TAKING ACTION

  • Mat-Su residents have an opportunity share their opinions on school mask mandates at the Sept. 1 Mat-Su School Board meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. Public testimony can be provided in person or may be submitted in writing and emailed to the School Board using the link located on the School Board website. Members of the public wishing to provide testimony telephonically must sign up no later than 3pm the day of the meeting by calling or emailing School Board Administrative Assistant Stacy Escobedo at Stacy.Escobedo@matsuk12.us or 907-746-9272
  • Meetings are live-streamed HERE.

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Mat-Su parents hold early-morning protest against school mask mandates

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 20 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.