Dan Smith: Where are the goal posts on mask mandate in our schools?



Where are the goal posts? How and when will the children of Anchorage be able to breathe freely again in school?

The Anchorage School District Board and superintendent may not be able to make this decision rationally. If asked, they will point to recommendations from the now discredited Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They will direct your attention to a fancy colored CDC chart with indicators for risk of introduction and transmission of Covid-19 in schools.

Such indicators include number of new cases, percentage of positive PCR tests, percentage of hospital beds occupied and beds occupied by Covid patients. This decision matrix is fuzzy at best and it’s a bit hard to tell which way the wind is blowing the flags on top of the posts.

Reflecting on a few short months ago, the district conducted a Covid-free and mask-optional summer school. We thought we might be done with the mask mandate insanity.

Then Superintendent Deena Bishop huddled up and had conversations. Bishop claims she based this decision to mask up the kids for the fall of 2021 on conversations with staff and members of the community.

I am not aware of any survey asking for public or school district employee input. My opinion was never solicited. Nobody I know was asked to give their two cents. Bishop’s mask mandate e-mail announcement was issued Saturday July 31 at 7 pm. The only board meeting before the start of school was on Aug. 3, where in-person testimony was overwhelmingly against the mandate. Aug. 17 was the first day of school this year.

Make no mistake, this is Bishop’s mandate we currently enjoy. The superintendent made the recommendation to the school board and they took her advice.

The view of the end zone suddenly became blurry and undefinable at that point.

Every athlete or team that takes a beating on the field is reminded by their coach, not to hate the opposing players, instead direct your anger toward the game. It is not an easy perspective to achieve given all of the bad calls and late hits that have been made by the opponent.

This is, unfortunately, not a game. Numbers and statistics are discussed to the point of exhaustion. The failed “lockdown”, “shut out” and “mask up” plays are analyzed, but no apologies are offered. Mistakes have been made. Child development and education have suffered. The children of Anchorage will never get that lost, lockdown spring semester of 2020 back.

Suffering from the delayed academic achievements and social skill deficiencies continue as a consequence today. Look at the test scores. Look at the in-school violence.

As a constant reminder of the failure that is ASD leadership, students continue to suffer under the mask mandate. One should not dwell on the last broken play. The only thing that matters is the next play.

And here it comes. As recently as Nov. 23, a principal sent out a “Mask Wearing Reminder” notice. In that notice it stated “Correct mask wearing always means over the nose and mouth unless eating or drinking” (when Covid apparently is unable to spread or be caught). The notice goes on to say, “Students who fail to comply with wearing their mask properly will receive detention. It is important that we continue to enforce the districts universal mask wearing policy.”

One of only two possible situations can exist here. Option one: Either we have a huge outbreak of a virus which is 99.997% harmless to the 19 and under age group or, Option two: This is all about compliance, universal compliance.

I figured the numbers on the ASD web site would surely tell the story — and boy do they ever. ASD maintains a list of every ASD school, updated in real time and it reflects the number of active Covid cases involving both students and staff that are in a 10-day isolation situation with a confirmed positive Covid test.

Of the 103 ASD schools, 32 of them had zero active Covid cases on Nov. 23, 2021.

Twenty-eight additional schools had only one active Covid case. The most that any single school had was 9 Covid cases.

Translation: 58 percent of ASD schools have one Covid case or less. If one or less cases in a school is not the goal, then only zero cases must be the goal.

But no. The previously mentioned principal’s letter came from a high school with zero Covid cases. I think the Anchorage School District is running the “Option Two” play in this situation.

It’s not the players, it’s the game. There is no recognition of individual schools and their unique statistics. This is like saying, “The second place team in the Super Bowl is a bunch of losers,” even though they have nine future Hall of Fame players on their active roster.

Currently, 32 schools with zero Covid must continue to suffer the mask mandate, as they are on the losing ASD team under the rules of this game.

The rules need to be changed. Anything done in the name of universal compliance has got to be an automatic question mark in a rational mind.

There is a young generation of Anchorage students who know of no other type of school except the masked kind of school. The damages to academic achievement and social development are real, especially for the youngest students.

Are the school board and superintendent nimble enough to make changes to their own mask mandate policy? Remember, this is not a CDC policy. This is an Anchorage School District policy. They demonstrated that they have the ability to call an audible and make last minute changes like reintroduction of the mask mandate last fall. In the second half of the 21/22 season will the ASD leadership be able to move the ball the other direction?

If you could run in the next play from the sidelines, you might tell the ASD quarterback to make masking up optional when a school has one or fewer active cases of Covid-19. Or maybe 5 or fewer cases should be the threshold since we are just making up rules as we go for the last couple years. This really needs to be addressed on an individual school basis. The universal policy approach does not acknowledge the conditions on the ground or within the confines of a single school.

The Anchorage School District has a School Board Meeting on its schedule for Monday Dec. 6 at 6pm. I would hope that enough people express their concerns, and that logic and reason prevail. It is possible that we can give the kids here an early Christmas present and win the Covid Bowl. Eliminating the universal useless and harmful mask mandate could be the play that breaks the game wide open.

Dan Smith is a lifelong Alaskan and Anchorage resident and senior contributor at Must Read Alaska.


  1. Schools have been making reason-free, arbitrary and fuzzy decisions for years. The default reason for anything is an unsupported claim that safety is somehow involved. In addition to the ASD, I am now of the view that the Anchorage Assembly and, the Biden/Brandon administration itself, lack the capability to eliminate mask mandates. Based on their mental state, they could not devise a pathway to eliminate masking requirements if their lives depended upon it. These folks would have to reverse so many conclusions or prior pronouncements that they simply cannot act. Only by removing the individuals involved can the policies be changed. We will be wearing masks on airplanes in 2024. Or maybe forever.

  2. Dan, there should NEVER be ANY mask mandate, under ANY situation, as they have been proven, over and over again, to have essentially NO effect on viral disease transmission or contraction. The real reason for the mandate is, as you suggested, to instill unquestioning obedience to irrational dictates from those in power. That, and nothing more.

    • Jefferson, I agree. Pending a State ban on medical mandates, this is where we are right now. The suggestion is that ASD starts by looking at their own data and then have ASD try to defend their position. There is not rational defense for masking in a COVID free zone. Assuming they recognize that, one could explore the definition of “COVID free” or acceptable levels and if that is ever possible.

  3. When you obey, the rules will be made clear. These are not your kids. They are property of the State. This is what comes of years of conservative apathy.

    Had enough yet, Anchorage?

  4. Everyone with any useable (and used) rationality knows that masks used by the public do more harm than good. This is only about virtue signaling and/or control. And mostly punishing children with face diapers is sick and wrong.

    • Matt, enforced mask wearing is also denormalizing, destabilizing and most of all dehumanizing, all of which are implicit if not explicit objectives of radical leftist extremists in their ongoing program to undermine and destroy our society and our nation.

  5. The ASD’s primary goal is the flourish of Communism.
    From universal compliance to sexualization of children to Critical Race Theory.
    They have no other objective or goals.
    Someday, they’ll be up front and honest about it. I hope we’re able to take back the reins before we get to that point!

  6. Driving by a local school recently, I observed that the kids were at recess. Then, I noticed a small group of children hiding behind a storage shack at the far end of the playground. Curiosity got me to observe what mischief they were up to, and then I realized that they had their masks down and were doing nothing more than enjoying a breath of fresh air out of sight of the monitors. Sad days, these.

  7. Well written, Dan! The school board, its members, Bishop, and the AEA are hard-headedly making complete jokes of their credibility as leaders that should be allowed to have anything to do with OUR kids’ education or safety. They, collectively, have become the Emperor Who Has No Clothes. They are strutting around making proclamations of such an idiotic nature, while the general public knows they are blithering morons that shouldn’t even be allowed to drive much less hold public office. Will they ever blush at their naked ineptitudes?

  8. If we had a governor with cojones, he would issue an executive order ending the mask mandate. Then, if the Legislature truly had Alaskans and our rights at heart, they would set forth in statute that bar.
    However, all are cowards, all are ignorant and all would rather see tyranny imposed than adhere to what is now known science: Overall, masking is ineffective. For the kids, it is unnecessary period.
    Further, the asymptomatic and the recovered do not transmit the disease. Transmission only occurs by the those symptomatic–coughing, sneezing, touching–and the vaccinated.
    Masking is tyranny, not science.

  9. We’ve been playing tag with this virus and its variants for a while now, and some things have come clear. Some recommendations that were made in the past have been shown to be either ineffective or marginally effective.
    The virus is acknowledged to spread by aerosol dispersion. That means it exists in suspension in the air. It’s like sugar when you dissolve it in water. Once the virus disperses in the air, cloth masks essentially become ineffective, just as a filter will take out sugar crystals but not dissolved sugar. N95s are way better, but don’t provide complete protection. The ineffectiveness of cloth masks is made worse by wearing the masks improperly. An N95 worn improperly is also ineffective.
    I doubt most kids are going to be able to wear their masks properly for the whole school day. Probably most faculty, too.
    We’re wasting a lot of time on masks and on “sanitizing.” Sanitizing works great for fecal/oral transmission not for aerosol. It, too, is probably a waste of time, until the next Cruise Ship Tummy Curse hits.
    Missing in this article is the fact that vaccines are far and away the most effective defense we have against Covid. If everyone got vaccinated, we’d probably be looking at a new normal in a matter of months that isn’t a whole lot different than a bad flu year.

    • Most of this? Pretty good. The last little bit? Dead wrong.
      The clot shot is dangerous and ineffective. Now it looks like Dr. Robert Malone’s prediction is coming true. Too much of the population taking a week “vaccine“ equals a virus that merely sidesteps the useless and dangerous clot shot. That is happening now. Nu and Omicron here we come. It actually is appearing from the initial data that it is being spread almost exclusively by “vaccinated“ people. Oh well, at least me and mine have natural immunity and will be unaffected or far less affected by these new variants caused by hysteria and over vaccination with a clot shot that was not ready.

      • There’s no question that the virus is seeking to evade protection from both “natural”* immunity and vaccinations, but the problem is that as long as the virus is circulating among the population, it will mutate, and some of those mutations may not be protected against by the vaccine. This problem exists and is well documented by the medical community with the overuse of antibiotics, allowing bacteria to mutate into strains that are antibiotic resistant.
        The best way to stop this from happening with Covid is to stop the transmission of the disease. The best way we can do this is to vaccinate as many people as possible. If we tamp the current strains down, they will have less time to mutate.
        The virus will likely be just as effective at evading ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, immunity infusion therapy, and the newly developed anti-Covid pills as it will the vaccine. The problem with ivermectin and hydro is that they don’t seem to work anyway.
        Good luck with your natural immunity. Let’s hope it has a for the newer Covids. Maybe yes, maybe no.
        * All immunity is natural. The vaccine prompts the body to produce antigens. It works only as well as your natural immune system is able to respond to the triggers in the vaccines.

    • Your continued and desperate faith in the abject failures that are the so-called COVID “vaccines” is pathetic and ridiculous. If they were even half as effective — HONESTLY effective, as in preventing contraction and transmission of the virus, which they do NOT — then the current ongoing pandemic would have been over already, instead of ramping-up right along with (so-called) ‘vaccination’ rates. These jabs DEMONSTRABLY cannot stop the pandemic, nor even slow it down, as they do NOT prevent contraction NOR transmission of the virus. They are simply treatments that may alleviate symptoms, but are NOT vaccines. Nor have they been proven safe — far from it — which could ONLY be determined after successful multi-year trials that have not been undertaken.
      But hey, great job in parroting all the most idiotic talking points of mass-murderer Fauci and his big-pharma-lackey gang.
      PS: you slipped in disparaging universal and eternal mask wearing — for shame!

      • Actually, they are vaccines. They trigger an immune response in the body that produces antigens. That is the definition of a vaccine.
        Vaccines have variable effectiveness based on the ability of a person’s immune system to respond to the triggers. The mRNA vaccines seem to be pretty good at this, but they are not 100% effective. No vaccine is.
        Vaccines are not treatments. A treatment is something that is done to stop a disease once it has been contracted. There are a couple currently available that have shown some success when Covid is in the early stages. Once one is on a ventilator it seems the only thing that will bring that person back is how well the body fights off the disease. A vaccine will not do anything, and most treatments are no longer effective at this point.
        Fauci is not the problem. He is working on finding solutions. That’s the best anyone can do at this point. Give him a break.

        • Biden should give him a nice, long break ASAP.

          I’m not convinced Fauci is working on finding solutions. Unless by “finding solutions,” you mean “funding more gain-of-function research,” which is really what he wants to get out of all this.

    • “Missing in this article is the fact that vaccines are far and away the most effective defense we have against Covid. ”
      Effective… You keep using this word.
      I do not think it means what you seem to think it means.
      An effective vaccine would prevent you from catching the virus. This one does not.
      It would prevent you from developing a sufficient viral load to spread the disease. None of these vaccines do that either.
      A vaccine would prevent you from showing symptoms, ending up in the hospital, or dying. These vaccines are “claimed” to do that, but there is no actual proof. (Given the extremely small percentage of positive cases that actually end up in the hospital prior to vaccine availability, claiming the vaccine is responsible is disingenuous at best.)
      In fact, there is nothing about this vaccine that appears to be effective in any way.

  10. Simply put, the goalposts of which you speak, within regard as to what those within power intend, are within a place far, far away in which said goalposts are nonexistent…

    The path unto those goalposts is both immeasurable and unattainable, as designed, and are not within the construct as to relinquishing suddenly gained power and control as has been shown so clearly within the last 20 months or so…

    It is not the path unto the goalposts that must be changed, it is the keeper of the path that must be changed, so as to allow the pathway itself to become the goalposts sought before it even becomes the path that has itself has become…

  11. If you could run in the next play from the sidelines, you might tell the ASD quarterback to make masking up optional when a school has one or fewer active cases of Covid-19. Or maybe 5 or fewer cases should be the threshold since we are just making up rules as we go for the last couple years. This really needs to be addressed on an individual school basis. The universal policy approach does not acknowledge the conditions on the ground or within the confines of a single school.
    This would be good advice. We have seen it work in the valley.

  12. Mask mandates are about power and control, NOT health, NOT “slowing the spread”, just power and control. Prayers are with you that you have enough people stand up with you to end this madness!

  13. When you write about the “School Board” supporting mandatory masking please remember that I not only sponsored amendments against it (they were not seconded), I voted against it, and was attacked in the Daily News for doing so. Go watch the 11/12/21 meeting at 3 hours, 37 minutes, 30 seconds and listen to me ask for an exit plan for ending mandatory masking and hear the response. I have and will continue to do all I can to oppose unreasonable mandatory masking in schools. As always I am speaking only for myself and not the School Board or School District.
    Dave Donley
    Member Anchorage School Board

    • Typo correction: on Facebook at “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dd_LdctlpxA&t=9550s” it is the 11/17/21 meeting at 2 hours, 37 minutes, 30 seconds.

  14. Dave, you are the lone voice of reason on the Anchorage School Board. Keep doing what you do. We will get you some help.

  15. They didn’t freak out when there was a measles outbreak at a school one year because of a certain demographic not getting vaccinated

    They didn’t freak out and mask mandate when 1/2 of a school was absent because of the regular flu one year either.

    When will someone with a damned backbone stand up and stop this stupid stuff. “We better go along to get along, and if anyone dies we will get the blame.” Nonsense all of it!

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