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Area Schools Scramble To Deal With COVID-19 Surge

The Lower Kuskokwim School District announced Bethel students would start school remotely on Aug. 24.
Katie Basile

School sports appear to be a victim of the latest surge in COVID-19 cases. Lower Kuskokwim School District Superintendent Kimberly Hankins said that as long as schools are at “high-risk” or on lockdown, there are no school sports, and there are limits on other activities as well. Getting sports back depends on controlling the latest surge in positive cases. Communities have a couple of weeks to do it. 

Whether basketball and volleyball will take place this school year is still unresolved. Hankins and other school district superintendents are waiting for guidance from the Alaska School Activities Association.

“There are a lot of us who are really eager to see what they determine, what path they move forward with,” said Hankins. “I know they are keeping their eye on the statistics statewide of number of cases.”

The ASAA is expected to make additional recommendations when it meets on Nov. 9

Ten LKSD schools are in lockdown and the rest are at high-risk, along with almost all the schools in the region. Under these conditions, the regional Native Youth Olympics planned for Nov. 14 appears unlikely. 

LKSD is continuing to deliver meals and packets to families living under both lockdowns and high-risk scenarios. Hankins said that the district is still working to get equipment in place at village homes to provide remote learning using GCI “intranet” systems so that students and teachers can have more resources for remote learning. She said that lockdown is not going to stop that.

“For those communities in lockdown, we will be able to deliver those to families with installation directions,” said Hankins.” So we’re going to rely on our families to do the install piece.”

Hankins said that the district is still waiting for equipment and doing testing on the GCI system. She did not know when the intranet would be fully functional in the district’s villages.

Johanna Eurich's vivid broadcast productions have been widely heard on National Public Radio since 1978. She spent her childhood speaking Thai, then learned English as a teenager and was educated at a dance academy, boarding schools and with leading intellectuals at her grandparents' dinner table in Philadelphia.
Greg Kim is a news reporter for KYUK covering environment, health, education, public safety, culture and subsistence. He's covered everything from Newtok's relocation due to climate change-fueled erosion to the Bethel chicken massacre of 2020.
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