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Mayor Berkowitz: ‘It will take a community effort to get kids back in school’

The city of Anchorage still seeing a relatively high number of COVID-19 cases
Mayor Ethan Berkowitz says in order for students to return to schools, it will take help from the community
Mayor Ethan Berkowitz says in order for students to return to schools, it will take help from the community(none)
Published: Sep. 25, 2020 at 8:21 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - At Friday’s community update, medical officer Dr. Bruce Chandler with the Anchorage Health Department shared that over the past two weeks, 659 people, ranging from age one to 86, tested positive for COVID-19.

“I have some concern with that impending opening of schools, 81 of these recent cases are school-aged children and teenagers,” Chandler said.

The Anchorage School District is currently planning for elementary and special needs students to possibly return to schools at the beginning of the second quarter which starts on Oct. 19.

“I think it’s an indication that there is COVID in that age group,” Chandler said. “So, anything that can be done to one, reduce the transmission in the community and reduce the number of kids who are running around with COVID and anything we can do to make the schools safer when they reopen is what we want to do.”

In order for that to happen, the number of cases will have to drop. Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz says the community is experiencing a relatively high amount of cases and is operating in the yellow cautionary phase. To ensure businesses stay open and school can allow children back in, Berkowitz says the community needs to double-down on their efforts.

“The plans they are making are conditional,” Berkowitz said. “They are conditional on us being a safe-operating environment. You can’t just open up the school system without a certain amount of lead time. The discussions we’ve had with Dr. [Deena] Bishop and administrators, it’s very clear that we need to be in a safe place before we can really and truly open up. That requires the entire community to work incredibly diligently over the next few weeks to bring the case counts substantially lower.”

Berkowitz asked people to continue to wear masks, wash their hands and keep their personal bubbles as small as possible. People who travel need to make sure they quarantine and if anyone is sick, stay home.

Health officials also encourage everyone to get a flu shot this year. The ASD is partnering with the Anchorage Health Department in providing free drive-through flu shot clinics. The drive-through clinics will be held at the ASD Education Center located at 5530 E. Northern Lights. The first one is Saturday, Sept. 26 from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. followed by a second one on Wednesday, Sept. 30.

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