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Mask Requirement Lifted for FNSBSD Schools

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The Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board narrowly voted to lift the mask mandate for their students at the board meeting last night. They changed the proposal to have immediate effect.

Originally, the proposal was to remove the requirement that students wear masks in classrooms as in-person school resumes in August. The proposal was floated at a meeting last month.

Since then, the board heard and received public comments both on keeping and on removing the requirement. The board also reviewed a survey of parents and students.

Board member Matthew Sampson sponsored an amendment to remove the requirement immediately, impacting Summer School programs already underway. Board president Tim Doran said that is unfair to families who are expecting their kids to be protected while in summer school.

“Parents made that decision based on what they expected for this month. And it has worked. To all of a sudden change that, puts some of our parents in a position of having to make a decision overnight. I think it’s unfair.”

Board member April Smith says she supported immediately removing the requirement, saying she thinks they are dehumanizing.

“I support the motion because the bar moves constantly, and if our goal is total eradication of COVID before we can remove our masks, that’s never going to happen.”

The amendment passed five to five, with advisory votes from military members against and from the student representative for the amendment.

When it came time to pass the measure as it was amended, the vote went the same way.