Sitka Superintendent Frank Hauser issued an alert to parents this week, warning them of a plan in which some parents appeared intent on sending kids to area schools without face masks.
In an email to school families, Houser said the district had “learned that a group of individuals is planning disturbances in our schools on Tuesday, February 22.”
“The goal of these disturbances is unclear,” he said, while indicating that it has to do with the school district’s mask mandate.
He wondered aloud why people are making this move since the “SSD’s mask policy will be suspended no later than March 22.”
Houser’s email noted that the borough mask mandate sunsets on March 22, but could be rescinded earlier if the area falls below its “high alert level.”
He then claims that educators have “worked tirelessly to keep school open and students learning during this unprecedented time.”
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Houser appears to criticize parents who are fed up with the mandatory masking of their children.
“Now, at this late date, it would be heartbreaking if anything or anyone attempted to do what COVID-19 could not and disrupt student learning in our schools,” he said.
Houser ends by warning that he has communicated with Sitka Police and local officials.
As of publishing, it is unclear whether Houser’s concerns about “disturbances” ever materialized.
Sitka continues to maintain strict masking of teachers, students and staff despite the fact that the Omicron variant has proven extremely mild, and the second largest school district in Alaska – Mat-Su – has already ditched its mask mandates with no apparent problems. Anchorage, with the largest school district in the state – will follow suit on Feb. 28.
While no school age children in Alaska have died of Covid since the outbreak more than two years ago, the Sitka School District’s mask policy continues to require that all students cover their faces throughout the school day. The only exceptions are to eat and drink, during supervised unmasking “breaks” and while playing outdoors.
According to the Sitka Borough Covid dashboard, the past week has seen 28 community cases in an area with more than 8,000 residents.
— Contact Sitka School Superintendent Frank Houser at (907) 747-8622.