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Masks become optional at LKSD schools. Other COVID-19 policies relaxed

A Bethel Regional High School graduation ceremony before the pandemic.
Dean Swope
A Bethel Regional High School graduation ceremony before the pandemic.

Masks will be optional starting March 28 at Lower Kuskokwim School District (LKSD) schools. In a special meeting on March 22, the school board relaxed its masking policy, as well as a number of other COVID-19-related policies.

LKSD’s new policy to make masks optional is supported by the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC) and the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to YKHC, the Y-K Delta went from a high-transmission risk level to a medium risk level earlier this month. The number of new COVID-19 cases in the region in the last week is six times lower than it was during the peak of the Omicron variant wave. On March 22, the City of Bethel pulled back its emergency measures.

It is under these circumstances that LKSD is moving away from mandatory masking in the classroom. If cases increase back into a high-transmission risk level, LKSD would once again make masking mandatory.

Masking is not the only policy that’s being loosened. LKSD is also lifting all restrictions on spectators for all events held in school gyms. There will be no capacity limits and no vaccination requirements for sporting events or graduation ceremonies.

There will also no longer be any vaccine requirements for athletes traveling out of the region, or for coaches and chaperones. The district is also loosening isolation requirements for students who test positive for COVID-19. Those requirements still follow CDC and YKHC guidance.

You can see the full details of LKSD’s updated COVID-19 guidelines on the district’s website.

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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