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Dave Donley: Why I voted against masking the kids


The two school districts geographically contiguous to the Anchorage School District, Kenai and Mat-Su, have rejected mandatory masking of students for the coming school year. At the Aug. 3 meeting of the Anchorage School Board, Superintendent Deena Bishop presented her plan for Anchorage schools this fall.

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It included changing from the completely successful Summer School policy of parent-choice optional masking to essentially full-time mandatory masking of every child while in a school district building. Some case-by-case exceptions will be allowed.

Students will not be forced to wear masks while actively doing sports. No longer will parents have the option to choose this health decision for their children.

The School Board could have rejected mandatory masking at the Aug. 3 meeting, but my three amendments against it all failed without being seconded. Those were essentially 6-1 votes in favor of no parental choice and mandatory masking.

The Board received hundreds of messages specifically on the masking issue both in support and opposed to mandatory masking. On the night of the meeting, my count was about 20 people testified in support and almost 50 against.

The primary expressed justifications for mandatory masking were support from the American Association of Pediatrics and the Center for Disease Control; the increased risk of the Delta COVID-19 variant; and currently increased COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations. Additionally, proponents argued that masks have some, however small, ability to reduce COVID-19 transmission, so why not force their use?

The primary oppositions to mandatory masking were that:

1. Parents are the best at deciding personal health choices for their children and not a one-size-fits-all bureaucracy;

2. Typical masks do not work well against COVID-19 transmission;

3. Optional masking has worked successfully all summer in Anchorage Summer School, with only one publicized case out of 9,000 students;

4. Masks are potentially damaging to the physical and mental health of children;

5. The Centers for Disease Control has been so wrong so often and so political they cannot be trusted (the primary justification for the newest CDC mask recommendation was a single Massachusetts event that was not school related, and the school environment has many special safeguards);

6. The World Health Organization does not fully agree with the CDC;

7. Even the CDC reports that fewer than 1 in 200,000 or .005% of children infected have died from COVID-19, which is less than the children who die from influenza (the flu) most years, and we have never mandated masks due to the flu;

8. While the Delta variant is much more contagious, it is no more deadly, and the vaccines we have do a very good job of preventing serious illness;

9. Mandatory masking just will not work for the youngest children, at least those in kindergarten and first grade, and is harmful to them educationally, mentally and physically.

10. The school district’s process for approving exceptions to the masking rules is not working well, and children with special needs are suffering;

11. Some district staff will likely use the guidelines to justify forcing mask-wearing even outside the buildings and in spite of the identified exceptions;

12. Just like last year, because of other non-student-based influences, once a policy is in place, the school district will delay or refuse to change even if the science clearly no longer supports it;

13. Many parents who can afford to or can homeschool so will withdraw their children from ASD if masks are mandatory.

I extensively read and studied the facts and the data and concluded that, on the whole, mandatory masking of all students will do more harm than good for the students of the Anchorage School District. I am especially concerned with increased suicides, mental health damage to our children directly caused by mask mandates, and educational loss.

Accordingly, at the Aug. 3 meeting, I proposed three amendments to the policy, all of which failed due to having no supporting second for my motions. No other amendments were proposed. The plan then went into effect without the Board actually voting to adopt it.

My amendments were:

1. That the Board amend the plan to continue the Summer School parent-choice optional masking policy.

It failed for lacking a second.

2. That the superintendent reconsider the plan based on the public testimony.

It failed for lacking a second.

3. That the Board amend the plan to continue the Summer School optional masking policy for kindergarten and first-graders.

It failed for lacking a second.

I hope the superintendent and my fellow board members will reconsider and actively seek alternatives to mandatory masking of all students.

One idea a testifier offered to preserve parental choice was to group students into mask and no-mask classrooms. Our community needs to hold the district’s leadership responsible for promptly returning masking choices to parents if Anchorage is not in a high COVID-19 risk condition.

Dave Donley is a lifelong resident of Anchorage, parent of teenage twins, attorney, and served as a state representative and senator for 16 years. He wrote this as an individual School Board member and not on behalf of the Anchorage School District, School Board or any appointed or military position he may hold.



  1. Thank you Dave. Thank you for standing up! Parents please get involved and stop this school board(Owned and operated by the Union) unless we wake up and take back control. So much needs to be done to fix our broken public education system and if we let them do this it will be just that much harder for us to correct our broken public education system. Thank you Dave for being a reasonable adult.

  2. Kudos the Anchorage School Board for taking a pro-student pro-health decison and requiring masks for everybody in school. Fortunately, the majority of the ASB possesses more wisdom than Dave Donley. Despite what he says, masks do help reduce spread of the virus and they certainly are not harmful for children to wear. Kids do get sick, they get long COVID, and they even die from COVID. Over 300 kids died in the US last year while they were out of school and distance learning, more will surely get sick and die this year if proper measures are not taken.

    This situation reminds me of a story an American doctor once related. He told an African mother in a small village that there are parents in the US who refuse to have their kids vaccinated

    She was confused when he said that and replied: “But don’t your parents love their children in America?”

    The same could be said for something as trivial as wearing a mask in school.

    • Man . . . all these dudes I went to high school with that barely passed science class are now experts at immunology and epidemiology.

      • These dudes didn’t study immunology and epidemiology in high school science class. Was your brain mature at age 17?

    • Parents should have the right to make this decision for their kids. With a 0.005% mortality rate for kids, Covid has taken less kids than the seasonal flu. Maybe you haven’t spent much time in schools, but I don’t want to sacrifice the social interaction and learning that comes with reading facial expressions. You may think you’re the smartest person in the room…

    • Tell me about methods to reduce illness? Tell me about treatments pre and post? I am guessing your advice is to either not get it or get the shot. Tell me how you prophylax. Do you offer any hope other than vax or ventilator? Your fear mongering is to blame for the continuation of this totalitarianism.

    • Randall, “the science” does not support your authoritarian and fear-based kneejerk beliefs. If you would only stop inundating yourself with the weaponized hysteria and control-agenda-driven propaganda from the corporate media, and tried doing some independent research and thinking of your own, you would come to realize the irrationality and danger inherent in the kind of supine compliance and conformity that you espouse.

        • Sigh! “The science” is far from “settled” and the WHO and the flip-flopping CDC are at odds when it comes to masking kids. The “science” on this vaccine is still out too, as we were told that it was 98% effective and mask would no longer be needed…. yet somehow here we are again.

        • NO, it does not!
          The FEARMONGERING OF THE CORPORATE MEDIA does, however, support all of those things. Because fundamentally this entire panic-demic is much more about control, compliance and conformity than it is about public health. You are simply a mindless parrot, squawking what you heard from some corporate media stooge.

        • Only Junk Science supports masks, vaccines, etc. True science supports proper nutrition and care of our very own immune systems. Parents rights are being eroded by totalitarian nanny state imbeciles. #Insanity

        • Yep. Peeps can get mad and all but in the end, they have themselves to blame. Get the shot or risk killing their self and families. Can’t sugar coat it.

        • What science? CNN science? Last I’ve seen, there are hundreds upon hundreds of peer reviewed (albeit quickly) articles out there saying everything from one end of the spectrum to the other. I just look at the fact that small virus particles flow right through masks and up to at least 27ft in the air, and the only group out there truly safe are covid survivors. So why make such simple unverified comments like you have? It’s not doing anything to advance critical thinking.

    • Begging the question, didn’t the example of ASD summer school show that children could be safe without mandatory face covering? Donley brought up excellent points with multiple options and no one seconded. School board of ‘elected’ representatives have given over to Superintendent Bishop, an unelected, full decision making power.

      All school personnel should absolutely should be wearing masks within ASD buildings. If a cohort group of vaccinated individuals are in a private meeting, the group can decide to unmask in that setting.

  3. Very nice, Dave. You are the primary, no….the only, spokesperson for common sense on the school board. And you are intelligent! The rest of the members are bought and paid for by the NEA. All losers.

  4. A newly released study suggests that children may be harmed by wearing masks to combat Covid 19. The study published in the Journal of American Medicine pediatric section suggests that wearing of nose and mouth coverings leads to an in crease in Carbon Dioxide both inhaled and exhaled while wearing the mask. In the study of 26000 German children, it was determined that 68% had adverse effects while wearing masks. The group of Drs from Poland Austria and Germany determined children should not be forced to wear masks. No studies I could find in America. However, my comment is this: As long as those billionaires are invested in mask making it will continue. The school districts will follow like a bunch of sheep. Have you been on a plane? Wear masks except when eating or drinking and someone is always eating or drinking. No sense just nonsense . Thank you Dave Donley for your efforts.

  5. It’s okay. When they get sick they won’t come to the hospital. They just lie down in a ditch somewhere gasping for air. And the PFD will get bigger so it will be a win-win.

    • Wow! You must really hate your fellow human. Just because you are a panic-stricken mess, doesn’t give you the right to project your state of mind and choices on others.
      This is turning into the “perpetual pandemic”. The assumption that locking people up and slapping masks on their faces will prevent infections, has proven to be in-effective as numbers of cases in mandated vs non-mandated populations remain fairly even overall, here in AK. The summer school experience is another indicator of the unnecessary mandate to mask kids. Give parents the choice.

    • This is ghoulish and disgusting.

      School aged children are the least at risk for catching COVID, generally have mild or no symptoms if they do, and have a 99% survival rate and natural, post infection immunity should they contract it. This idea that COVID is something we can control, that the goal is that no one should ever contract it again is laughably unreasonable.

      Mask wearing is harmful to kids with asthma, children who are on the autism spectrum, children who are hard of hearing, children who have speech difficulties and the list goes on.

      Masking is not effective for children. Not all masks are created equal. Your kid’s Minecraft mask might look cute but it offers little to no protection. If you can hold it up and see light coming through, it’s not doing anyone any good. Even if it were an N95 mask, kids generally fiddle with them rendering their protective qualities moot. Forcing children to mask up is simply a performance so people like you can feel better. No child has any obligation to engage in an ineffective and potentially harmful mask wearing ritual to make you more comfortable.

      But rather than consider any of those things, from a man who claims to have been a teacher who should KNOW these things, you post some revolting fever dream about people gasping for breath in ditches and the PFD getting larger. The problem isn’t with parents who are concerned about the unintended consequences of forced masking policies in the ASD, the problem is people like you who hold themselves up as our betters, more enlightened and better educated while posting twisted fantasies about your political enemies and their potential demise. You’re the problem.

  6. Dave, thank you for the candid report. As a school board member in another District, I applaud your efforts here to fight for parental choice. The public comments noted here are robust and the BOE should have heeded the majority public desire. Hopefully the people of Anchorage remember this come time to vote.

  7. Can you please send this to your colleagues in Fairbanks? This is very well done and I am sorry that you work with cowardly fascists in Anchorage.

  8. Children learn much of their social skills by cues in facial expression. Masking children is dangerous and very harmful in the long run. It is my belief that harming many to save one is a very poor decision indeed. Herd immunity will NEVER be achieved this way. This is just like killing all bacteria in our lives with being overly clean can lead to many immune system disorders because we are killing off our natural immune responses by overuse of anti-bacterial soaps. Children who aren’t allowed to develop natural immunity will be put at greater risk for illness as adults. “Do no harm” should apply to everyone, not just doctors. The ASD’s choice here simply does NOT follow the science whatsoever. They are fools.

  9. Every time the representatives of the Anchorage Education Association / NEA-Alaska pulls a stunt like this, they make vouchers just a little bit closer. Keep it up, as there is a solution coming your direction.

    Great job, Dave. Cheers –

  10. This is why my kid will go to private schools and not be involved in communism. We should defund the Anchorage School district. “My body my Choice” No mask! Thanks

  11. Schools have always decided hygiene practices within their school grounds, despite parents disagreeing. Why is a piece of cloth worn on a child within school grounds that helps prevent the spread of disease suddenly a threat against freedom? Students can’t wear attire on school grounds that shows too much skin or underwear, or endorses alcohol or drugs. Students can’t use foul language, or bully other students. Students can’t skateboard, or rollerskate on school grounds. They can’t shout in the middle of class. They can’t talk on their cell phones. They can’t miss class without permission.

    But go forbid, they have to wear a mask to prevent spread of disease during a pandemic, and suddenly their freedom is threatened? Sounds like parents who wish their children to have freedoms that are restricted in class should homeschool their children. Period. This is how it’s always been. Until someone decided to politicize public health. Then suddenly opposition to reasonable health mandates in public schools is a restriction of children’s freedoms!! It’s laughable. And sad.

  12. If compelling, incontrovertible scientific reason existed for obedience-masking, the Peoples School Board should not have to “vote” on compulsory obedience masking, parents might not be on the verge of outright rebellion.
    Who gave the Peoples School Board authority to do this?
    Who gave the Peoples School Board the right to usurp parents’ rights and authority in this matter?
    Why should productive Anchorage residents kneel before this authority instead of responding with mass disobedience, lawsuits, disenrollment, recall petitions?
    The Peoples School Board, in practicality, represents a racket nationally recognized for its overpriced underperformance, now they reward themselves with authority to “order” obedience masking?
    No? Exactly who or what do they represent? If they disappear tomorrow, what Bad Thing happens?
    The Peoples School Board whose primary mission seems first, laundering tax money into the education industry and second, creating illiterate, unemployable, self-absorbed, unpatriotic Americans who can’t function in college without remedial training … are now self-appointed obedience-mask experts authorized to overrule parents’ rights any time for anything?
    Bullsh.. (hey!)
    Good news is their endless money supply is their weakness.
    Residents leave, disenroll children, Eaglexit happens, property-tax revolt happens, taxpayers start class-action lawsuits to recover property taxes paid for school services not provided… the education industry’s money supply could dry to a trickle, causing the industry to eat its own, collapse under its own weight.
    Even better news, Anchorage parents seem awakened to the evil which their Peoples School Board, with one exception, perpetrate on their children in lieu of a classical education.
    For your part in this Anchorage Awakening, Dave Donley, we thank you.

  13. The fact that this is even a debate shows the lunacy of these times. Why should normal people always be on the defensive from these ridiculous dictates from Bolshevik apparatchiks? Since when do lowlife politicians and bureaucrat tyrants have the power to bark orders at people directly, without so much as a debate in the legislature?

    Political prostitutes, who are bought and paid for by your Ruling Class, are now ordering everyone to put on a face burka- and too many people think that this is legitimate. There are far too many people who let themselves be pushed around by radicals who seize the middle rhetorical ground and assign the (previously) normal people to the fringe.

    We have no duty to obey politicians and their mandates. If they do not work for us, they must not be allowed to work for the dirty idle wealthy class either, at a minimum.

    We need mechanisms for removal of unelected bureaucrats and we need paper ballot only elections, with no foreign corporations involved in the vote count.

    • I know. People are fighting for the rights to kill themselves their family and their friends. That kind of stuff will get you locked up in a funny farm in the 1950s. Then the woke masses arrived and said hey if we want to kill ourselves we have the right to be able to do that and if we want to take you down with us we have the right to do that too. So stupid. Alaska truly is back in the Stone age. They’ve only been about a hundred years out of the cave anyway. The bush has it going on though. They value human lives and did everything that they can to protect their elders and children. Bully for the bush!

  14. If The Science tells us that abortion both kills an unborn child and causes psychological, emotional, spiritual, and physical harm to the mother, should we mandate the end of abortion in our city, state, and nation?

  15. That’s a good list of reasons to oppose mandatory masking but the number one and absolutely sufficient reason was left off the list and that is:
    Because the state and federal constitutions do not grant government the authority to tell us to wear masks for our own good or for the good of others.
    All governmental authority originates in the constitution and if a power was not explicitly granted in the constitution that was ratified then government does not have it.
    Unfortunately a centuries long succession of elected politicians and non-elected judges have “interpreted” many powers into being and since the government has the martial power to enforce those completely illegitimate interpretations of the constitution we, the common citizens, are forced to comply and obey.
    Doesn’t make it right though.

    • So you’re going to be a hypocrite then and pick and choose which ones you want to follow like free lunches, the PFD, and any other piece of buttered bread that they slip across the table to you. Why don’t you just say no I’m not going to accept a damn thing and take the drain off of society?

  16. All of these Pro Death abortion backers on the ASB of course want masks on the kids, they hate kids. They claim they want to save lives but they supported the slaughter of an entire generation of children through abortion. This is either mental illness or blatant hypocrisy and dishonesty. Good job Dave Donley in speaking up for the lives of our children.

  17. Per the CDC, there have been NO deaths in the age group under 18 years old since the pandemic began. “Protect The Teachers” with mandated vaccinations. That is the absolute best way to protect all.

    • That’s not true. Florida lost a 16-year-old yesterday and that makes number seven. It was the Delta variant that killed the kid because the original covid offered some form of protection to kids but not anymore. There been thousands under the age of 25 if you want to count that group.

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