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Within 2 weeks, 6 ASD schools have reported COVID-19 cases. The district says it’s tracking all cases

Anchorage schools are experiencing COVID-19 in the classroom since students returned two weeks...
Anchorage schools are experiencing COVID-19 in the classroom since students returned two weeks ago(none)
Published: Feb. 1, 2021 at 7:04 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The number of Anchorage students who have returned to school got bigger Monday, as a limited number of elementary schools welcomed third through sixth graders back to class. But as more students return to in-person learning, the Anchorage School District is dealing with more cases of COVID-19 in the classroom.

Six schools have experienced COVID-19 cases since students started returning two weeks ago. The district website shows there are 23 active cases as of noon on Monday, and 650 confirmed cases since September. Parents can go online to see which schools currently are experiencing COVID-19 cases.

Ashley Lally, ASD’s Director of Security and Emergency Preparedness, said the ASD has been keeping close track of every case since August.

“What happens is, we immediately get an email and it has all the details we need to know, were they symptomatic, close contact, were they positive? We take that information and we put it into our tracker,” said Lally. “The whole point of that is to calculate a return date for the student or the staff member.”

ASD notifies close contacts, staff and parents when a case turns up positive, according to Lally. Teachers also have a daily attendance list that indicates if a student is not allowed in the building because they should still be in quarantine.

Lally said the District follows the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention guidelines of being closer than six feet from someone who has tested positive for at least 15 minutes during a 24 hour period, to determine who is considered a close contact in a classroom.

“If the desks are spaced six feet apart then we would not consider a student who sits next to another student a close contact, as long as the desks are six feet apart,” she said. “We do have some classrooms where desks are less than six feet apart. And that’s when we do consider all those students who are within six feet of the positive a close contact.”

Tim Andrew, director of Elementary Education, said some schools in the district which are not able to separate desks the recommended six feet use partitions to keep students apart. Other schools are moving their classrooms into bigger spaces.

“They are making use of their multipurpose room, their gym, their library, to be able to move classes into larger spaces and facilitate that,” said Andrew.

Every school has a “site plan” unique to it, which is also detailed on the ASD website. Andrew said while every school is slightly different, all adhere to basic CDC guidelines and have the same ultimate goal of keeping students and staff safe.

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