Anchorage School District will start school year without mask mandate

Creekside Park Elementary School kindergarten teacher Rihana Gay’s classroom in January 2021. Masks will not be required at the start of the 2022-23 school year next week. (Mayowa Aina/Alaska Public Media)

Anchorage students are set to start the school year next week without a requirement to wear masks, which were mandatory on the first day of school last year.

That’s according to the Anchorage School District’s infectious disease plan, which also applies to school staff and visitors.

COVID-19 vaccinations are also not required, but the district encourages families to discuss them with their pediatricians.

In Anchorage, 35% of kids ages 5 to 11 and 64% of kids from 12 to 18 have received at least one dose, according to the state health department.

If a COVID outbreak occurs within a class, sports team or set of classrooms, district leaders could add additional mitigation measures. Those could include a mask requirement, limited visitor access or a temporary classroom closure.

“Families will be notified and may choose to have their students follow modified operations or may decide to keep them home during this time period,” the policy reads.

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School-based testing might also be made available during an outbreak, depending on need and funding, the school district said.

If there were a large, widespread outbreak, administrators might temporarily close a school. According to the district’s policy, officials would review a range of factors — including case numbers, absentee rates among students and staff and local hospital capacity — before deciding whether or not to close a school.

The first day of school in Anchorage is Thursday, August 18.

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