‘It’s been too long, we owe this to our kids and our families’: ASD eyes January return to schools

ASD Superintendent Deena Bishop says return to in person learning is an ‘absolute go’
Published: Dec. 15, 2020 at 4:07 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - During her mid-month back to school update, Anchorage School District Superintendent Deena Bishop backed her previous statement that students would be returning to classrooms in mid-January.

“It is an absolute go, we are moving forward,” Bishop said. “It’s been apparent that we can do in school for students and our students need to have school in schools.”

Starting on Jan. 19, pre-K through second grade can return to classroom settings. Certain special education students, all students from Whaley School and a handful of middle schoolers and high schoolers, will also make their way back to campuses.

“We have plenty of notice that January 19th is the start date,” Bishop said. “We need to keep ourselves healthy, our city’s ordinances and emergency orders are helping with that. We are ready to start, our staff will be in buildings prior, the week prior to students coming back, getting ready and having those rooms ready. We will be moving forward.”

Bishop doesn’t foresee anything stopping this attempt to return.

“There may be a law or something that comes up that makes me not allowed to open but if I have the authority, we will be opening schools, it is too long,” Bishop said. “Our kids, especially our youngest ones are not where they need to be, they are underserved by online learning, they absolutely need adults there to support them. When mom’s and dad’s work and brothers and sisters are helping them, it is not the same as the knowledge and expertise of our educators.”

ASD plans to phase third through sixth graders into schools shortly after. However, to start off, these students will still continue with online learning. The district’s goal is to bring them back as soon as possible while monitoring COVID-19 numbers and transmission rates. Middle school and high school students are scheduled to be back in school to start the fourth quarter, which begins in March.

“I personally take responsibility for not getting us back,” Bishop said. “Know that I will not be pulling back the start date. Please expect pre-K through second grade, parents, school will start on January 19th.”

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