Anchorage elementary schools get ready for some students to return in person

Elementary students have their own supplies to cut down on sharing during COVID-19.
Elementary students have their own supplies to cut down on sharing during COVID-19.(ktuu)
Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 4:03 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - In a week, some Anchorage School District students will be heading back to class in person.

At North Star Elementary, Principal Julie Sery said they are ready. The school is expecting about 185 pre-K through second graders on Jan. 19, as well as some older special education students.

Sery said staff have been planning for the return for months, but the key is staying flexible.

“I think that’s the biggest thing, COVID, a pandemic, is new for everyone,” said Sery. “So you learn new things, you adapt, you monitor, you change, and that’s what we are going to do when kids are back. We’ll learn new things about what works and what doesn’t work and then we’ll fix it.”

Students will notice new plastic barriers in the classroom and at individual desks. There are posters on the wall reminding them to wash their hands, stay six feet apart and wear masks.

Sery said students are asked to bring several masks if they have them, although the school will provide them if they don’t. Water bottles are also encouraged since the drinking fountains have been turned off. The school cafeteria will no longer be a place where children eat or gather, instead lunch will be consumed at their desks.

But one of the biggest changes involves parents. Sery said, because of COVID-19, they won’t be welcomed into the building this year.

“Unfortunately, no volunteers this year,” she said. “That’s not typical, we always encourage our families to come in and be an active part of their child’s education. And this year we are asking that parents don’t come into the schools and volunteer. We want to keep those social bubbles small.”

Sery said parents should remain in their cars when they drop off or pick up students, a change that some will have to get used to. Despite things being very different this year, she said some things remain the same.

“Every school year is full of ups and downs and challenges. This will be just like any other school year in that regard, they’re just different challenges.”

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