This late-April photo shows a damaged sticker on a door at Thunder Mountain High School reminding people to social distance and wear masks inside the building. Masks will not be required in school buildings this year. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

This late-April photo shows a damaged sticker on a door at Thunder Mountain High School reminding people to social distance and wear masks inside the building. Masks will not be required in school buildings this year. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

No mandatory masks or COVID-19 tests for new school year

No mandatory masks or COVID-19 tests for new school year

Students won’t be required to wear face masks and unvaccinated staff won’t be required to take weekly COVID-19 tests when school begins next Tuesday, although preventative measures for the virus will remain in place, according to Juneau School District Superintendent Bridget Weiss.

“One of the things that we will emphasize in our school this year is our expectation that we have our everyday operations for schools, and health and safety,” she said during the Juneau Board of Education meeting on Tuesday. “We certainly want kids and adults to stay home if they’re sick. We will continue to put an emphasis on ventilation because that helps health and safety.”

[Superintendent gets contract extension]

Mandatory masks were lifted during the previous school year, but remained in place for pre-K students because vaccinations weren’t available for children under 5. hat requirement is no longer in effect.

Staff were subject to mandatory COVID-19 tests unless they were fully vaccinated or recently were infected with the virus. The board on Tuesday voted to eliminate that requirement, with board member Emil Mackey expressing concern about possible resurgences and mutations of the virus in casting the lone dissenting vote.

Weiss, in an interview Thursday, said free at-home tests will be available in school buildings for staff as well as students, although the students cannot be tested by staff at school.

She also noted during the board meeting the public will again be able to attend the meetings in person as of September after they were limited to online-only participation. The district will continue to make the meetings available online via Zoom and phone.

Contact reporter Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com.

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