Accelerated version of phased return to schools laid out at joint Anchorage Assembly, school board meeting

Published: Dec. 8, 2020 at 6:30 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage School District leadership laid out an accelerated version of the phased plan to return students to in-person learning originally proposed at an Anchorage School Board meeting last week.

That version would’ve seen students in pre-k through second grade, as well as self-contained special needs and Whaley School return in small groups. Now, ASD is proposing a bigger move.

“They will all begin in-person school, which will be a five-and-a-half-hour school day,” said ASD Deputy Superintendent Dr. Mark Stock at a joint meeting of the Anchorage Assembly and School Board Monday. “Most likely after we returned from holiday break.”

Following those younger elementary classes, grades three through six could return later in the third quarter.

“That date as far as moving in-person will be determined,” Stock said. “We’ll see how our COVID mitigation and transmission is going and how staffing levels are.”

Middle and high school students wouldn’t fully return until the fourth quarter, though smaller groups who are struggling with online learning would return at the same time as the elementary students. Those students would be selected by their individual schools and given new schedules.

The district said part of the reason for the delay for middle and high school classes is because of the complications surrounding credits and changing classes mid-quarter. The other reason is so the district can keep refining its mitigation plans.

“I would say that the community spread is somewhat why we’re holding off on our older students, who do have more movement within a school, less of an ability for us to work through those mitigation and understanding, and kind of just building muscles,” said ASD Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop.

While the original proposal of the plan mentioned Jan. 19 as a possible start date, the district hasn’t committed to any specific dates, though Stock indicated that could soon change.

“The district makes announcements on the first and 15th of each month, so there may be a formal start date announcement as early as next week,” he said.

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