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ASD Superintendent lays out plan for phased return to in-person learning

The Anchorage School District logo at the district's headquarters in Anchorage
The Anchorage School District logo at the district's headquarters in Anchorage
Published: Dec. 2, 2020 at 10:34 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage School District Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop laid out a plan for a phased return to in-person learning for students at the School Board’s Tuesday meeting. The plan would begin by bringing students back in small groups as early as Jan. 19, before transitioning to a full return starting with the lowest grade levels.

The Jan. 19 start date was given as the earliest potential date for the return, but an exact date isn’t yet confirmed. Throughout the meeting, Bishop urged the board to support the plan or even an accelerated version of it.

Under its proposed form, the plan would go into effect following Winter break. For students who choose, it would see children in Pre K through sixth grade returning in small groups that would spend the first half of the day in-person, and the second half online after lunch. Middle and high schools, however, would begin with a smaller number of students returning.

“Because of the way courses are designed and the way credits are earned, it’s going to be much more imperative for the middle and high schools to bring in the students that are failing,” said ASD Deputy Superintendent Dr. Mark Stock. He added that students who were successful in online learning would wait a bit longer before going back.

Those small groups would represent the first phase of the four-step plan. Bishop said the space in between phases would depend on the success of each previous step, but could potentially be as short as a week. The following phases would see students in pre-k through second-grade return entirely to in-person learning, followed by grades three through six, and finally the remaining middle and high schoolers.

“It would be if there was a staged approach to move back in, access for small groups, but the full, you know, full move-in [for middle and high schools], it would be the fourth quarter,” said Bishop in response to questions about the full timeline for the phases from School Board members.

Bishop and board members however also discussed the possibility of implementing an accelerated version of the plan. Stock was able to answer some questions regarding the viability of moving the phases forward but added that he would need to return to the school start task force for additional planning.

ASD clarified in an email that elementary small groups will be students most in need of academic support. Elementary students, in general, are slated to return in “step 2.” Additionally, ASD made it clear that this plan is still in the draft stages.

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