ASD, closed over coronavirus concerns, breaks down future of school year

Laptop computer keyboard, Photo Date: Undated / PXHERE / MGN
Laptop computer keyboard, Photo Date: Undated / PXHERE / MGN
Published: Mar. 25, 2020 at 4:38 PM AKDT
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After a statewide mandate, schools across Alaska will be closed at least until May 1. In Anchorage, officials are still figuring out what the rest of the school year - and courses to come - will look like as concerns over coronavirus continue to swirl.

Below are clarifications from ASD officials on some of the most prominent details regarding the remainder of the school year as students gear up to get back into study mode for remote classes next week.

Core classes - through online study - resume on March 31.

ASD says it is on track to begin rolling out distance learning options on March 31. Right now, teachers are working on their lesson plans and "will begin distance learning in earnest next week," according to ASD Communications Director Alan Brown.

Elective courses - through online study - resume April 13.

Brown said via email Wednesday that high schools will begin offering elective courses on April 13. Outside of that, "We want to give our students some time to get used to the online platforms and the new process before offering elective courses," he said.

It is unclear whether or not Anchorage students will have to make up missed class time, and if so, how that might happen.

Brown said Wednesday that it’s too early to tell whether or not the district will have to extend the school year. "Right now, our focus is on getting students back to learning with their teachers via remote methods," he wrote. "We are committed to increasing summer school opportunities as needed to ensure our high school seniors can get the credits they need for graduation."

ASD is making adjustments to meet technology and home internet needs.

The district said Wednesday that it plans to issue a limited number of Chromebook computers to students with no access to digital devices at home. The first priority is high school students, followed by middle school and elementary students as supplies allow. Brown said the district is also working on a distribution plan that specifically limits community contact, as not to put students or staff members at risk. Families should contact their school if they need this assistance, he said.

If a parent can't get connected to the internet because of a past due bill or something else, and therefor a student can't get online access, there are alternatives for ASD students.

Brown said Alaska Communications, GCI and Matanuska Telephone Association have come forward with offers to provide free internet or upgrades for ASD families. Students who cannot get online access should be sure to let their teachers or school counselors know so alternatives can be implemented. More details on this are available


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