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Fairbanks residents bring masking mandate concerns to the School Board

Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 5:20 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -As the new school year begins, the school board has not installed any kind of mandatory mask mandate for children attending school, even as the COVID-19 Delta variant is dramatically raising case numbers throughout the state. Fairbanks community members came en masse to yesterday’s School Board Regular Meeting to voice their objections to the board’s decision.

Fairbanks resident Iris Sctton provided her position during the meeting.

“COVID-19 now effects everybody. The Delta virus has effected our children just as much as it did the adults back then. I really would like a mask mandate in order to safely send my children. They are six and eleven, and they don’t have a choice to get vaccinated. And so I have no safe choice to send them to school,” said Sctton.

The fact that children who are too young and currently ineligible to receive vaccination will not be guaranteed protection in schools was a major point of concern among the speakers. 28 community members expressed a range of assessments of the board, from dissatisfaction to anger at the board’s willful disregard for the American Association of Pediatrics and Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations for universal masking in all K through 12 schools regardless of vaccination.

Elizabeth Nadine from Fairbanks contributed to the discussion via zoom.

“By now you’ve heard all kids need to be masked for masks to effectively curb the spread of COVID in an enclosed space. Unvaccinated people are quote un quote, sitting ducks. It’s not okay to ignore the prevailing science in favor of personal feelings when it’s not your own or your kids safety at risk,” said Nadine.

Jun Derson from Fairbanks closed out the community feedback portion of the meeting with this.

“Given that Fairbanks is experiencing high transmission it seems clear to me that cases will be popping up all over the district. What will happen to those kids who have to quarantine? How are they going to have consistent learning? How are working parents supposed to suddenly pivot and stay home from work for an unknown amount of time? Most parents aren’t able to do this. If all students wear masks kids will not have to quarantine at all. Wouldn’t it be reasonable to just have all kids wear masks to keep in person learning consistent? And a bigger question I have for all of you, is how can you listen to all of this testimony and ignore us?” said Derson.

At present the School Board has no plans to reassess their standing position on masking being up to the discretion of parents and children.

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