Superintendent Bishop of Anchorage to remove masks from children beginning Feb. 28; will the school board allow it?

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By David Boyle

Recently, Anchorage School Board President Margo Bellamy led the board in reversing Superintendent Deena Bishop’s efforts to allow students to be able to breathe freely again, without masks.

“I am confident that the DEA is in a position to transition to parent-informed masking when we return to school on January 3,” Bishop said Dec. 15. With the exception of member Dave Donley, the school board did not believe it was time to do so. . Instead of allowing parents to decide whether their children should wear masks and instead of allowing Bishop to lead the district, Bellamy and his fellow council members thought they knew better than parents. The masks remained.

Students had to be masked until January 15. It is now February 18 and children still cannot go to school without masks. The council cites the general belief that they follow science, but no scientific data has been presented to validate this claim.

Now Bishop has sent a letter to parents saying she intends to make a mask-optional policy starting Feb. 28.

“Absent unforeseen conditions, I propose to transition the Anchorage School District (ASD) to parent-informed mask-optional for students and adult mask-optional in our schools and facilities. . This district-wide change will be implemented on Monday, February 28. It’s time to do it for our students,” Bishop wrote to parents.

“As a career educator, I understand how critical it is to focus the district’s energy on student learning. I believe that maintaining mandatory mask-wearing is counterproductive and negatively impacts the education, intellectual development, and emotional well-being of our students. COVID-19 cases in the State of Alaska (SOA), Municipality of Anchorage (MOA), and ASD are rapidly declining. The global knowledge of COVID-19 and the availability of effective vaccines and treatments is largely enabling a return to normal in the classroom,” she wrote.

Bishop said the past two years have been difficult for everyone and the district is working to meet the needs of staff and students. “I plan to maintain all other mitigation measures and procedures that allowed us to reopen schools and keep them open during the Omicron outbreak. The district is prepared to offer PCR testing to symptomatic staff and students through the end of the school year. Our COVID-19 page includes this year’s schedule and outlines our phased approach,” she said in her note.

The district reports that as of February 18, there were 71 positive PCR tests among all students and staff. This means that of the 48,377 students and staff, 0.14% tested positive for Covid. There is no information on how any of these students or staff were affected by testing positive. Have any been hospitalized or seriously ill?

Council President Bellamy became more interested in the council’s ability to wield power and impose unnecessary mandates on the children. But with an election on the horizon and Bellamy up for re-election, it’s possible the board will accept Superintendent Bishop and let Mask’s term expire.

The issue will be a topic at the Anchorage School Board meeting on Tuesday.

At the February 9 board meeting, board member Donley asked about student masking and cited several studies, including a reference to an article in Atlantic magazine that supported the unmasking of children. Bellamy brushed off his discussion.

The UK, Ireland, all of Scandinavia, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Italy have exempted children, with varying age thresholds, from wearing masks in classrooms. There are no more outbreaks in these schools than in American schools.

Even the World Health Organization does not recommend masks for children aged 6 to 11 due to “the potential impact of wearing a mask on learning and psychosocial development”.

Many argue that masking students has done more harm than good to students, especially younger ones. Council President Bellamy and her policy of hiding students have resulted in emotional stress, anxiety, fear, aggression and depression among students. The masks have severely affected the language, emotional and social development of many children, effects that will last for a long time. It will be very difficult to remedy these adverse effects.

The learning delay resulting from the masking is especially damaging to minority and low-income students, a legacy of Bellamy and the school board’s majority, who have widened the achievement gap in an already failing district.

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