Anchorage School District moves forward with plans to return students to in-person learning

Pre-K through second grade with a handful of others set to return to buildings on Jan. 19
Published: Jan. 5, 2021 at 3:03 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - It’s full speed ahead for the Anchorage School District and the quest to return students to in-person learning in two weeks.

“ASD is open for business and we are welcoming our K-2, as well as Special Ed students through sixth grade on January 19th,” ASD Superintendent Deena Bishop said. “We’re just excited about it, we’re ready. It’s due time and we just want to communicate with community about back-to-school protocols.”

Bishop says that about 25% of the middle school and high school population will also make their way back to classrooms.

“At the secondary level due to credits earned and courses, we’re really on a quarter system,” Bishop said. “So those students who have been unengaged or need additional support, have been assigned to do school in school.”

Bishop says school may be a little different with the robust protocols and safety procedures the school district has in place, but early indications with ASD’s youngest students show they’ve adapted quite quickly.

Bishop also doesn’t foresee anything that could stand in the way of students returning.

“If our city has some type of emergency,” Bishop said, “an emergency ordinance if you will, or with the state, then we would have to abide by that but, with the given support now by our mayor and the city with the ordinances that we have, we are going back to school.”

While most teachers won’t be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine until the next shipment arrives in Alaska sometime this month, Bishop says some teachers already have gotten the vaccine or soon will.

“The workgroup at the state level with students with disabilities really designated certain teachers who work with high needs students to be in the top category with medical providers so, due to their work and what it looks like in school, they were in that top category,” Bishop said.

Bishop wants the community to prepare for students returning in less than three weeks and urges people to be alert for school buses and be on the lookout for students soon appearing at bus stop locations.

“Our goal is to keep kids in school and to really monitor and be sure that we’re safe and be sure that we don’t have the viral spreading in our school but that kids don’t have to stay home and don’t have to quarantine if they don’t have the virus,” Bishop said.

Beginning Jan. 19, any staff member or student can go to one of five elementary schools for a free COVID-19 test. The schools offering this service during regular school hours include Abbott Loop, Chester Valley, Fairview, North Star and Russian Jack.

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