Concern about the coronavirus is delaying the start of school by a couple of weeks. The new start date is Aug. 24. Lower Kuskokwim School District Superintendent Kimberly Hankins said that the district is requiring all teachers flying into the region to be tested for COVID-19 at the airport, and self-quarantine for two weeks before taking on classroom duties.
“So those two weeks, the weeks of Aug. 10 and Aug. 17, the district is providing professional development to all of our staff, knowing that for some folks, they will still be in quarantine, depending on the date they arrive in the delta,” Hankins said.
The Lower Kuskokwim School District is working with the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation to develop different scenarios for providing education safety that depend on the level of coronavirus infection in the region. At the low-end, school would operate pretty much the way it always has. But with a high level of infection, the district would shut down classrooms, and classes would all occur on the internet. YKHC has recommended that schools open at the mid-level of threat, which means limiting the size of classes and combining them with remote teaching on the internet.
“At medium risk, we’re limiting the class size in order to space student desks out,” Hankins said. “So social distancing strategies in classrooms, and movement throughout the school building.”
Hankins says that in the villages where kids can walk to school, the schedule would require a half-day classroom teaching schedule, with the rest done at home. She added that villages would be operating at the same medium risk level as Bethel schools, at least to start the year. Parents also have the option to teach their students at home with a curriculum provided by the district.
If the pandemic’s threat level changes, the school district will respond by making further changes in its operations. Under the present scenario, the district plans to offer a sports program and extracurricular activities. Superintendent Kimberly Hankins will return to the talk show “Coffee@KYUK” on July 27 to talk about the district’s plans to provide those programs safely.