An increase in COVID-19 numbers in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta this spring has led to some schools, which had recently reopened, to return to remote learning. Lower Kuskokwim School District Superintendent Kimberly Hankins said that initially there were only four schools which remained closed when schools reopened last month.
“Since that time, unfortunately, we have seen an uptick in COVID cases in our region,” said Hankins. “And so currently, as of this morning, we have nine sites that are at remote learning only due to COVID cases or exposure, and the wishes of the community that have been expressed to us from the tribal council or that COVID faskforce.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has allowed for schools in certain cases like in elementary schools to reduce the distance required between students’ desks in classrooms to three feet. However, the Lower Kuskokwim School District’s Board of Directors has decided to keep the 6-foot distancing in place. The board is concerned about the high number of COVID-19 cases in the district.
“We are sticking with 6 feet for now, but we continue to monitor the school openings, and then continue to visit with YKHC about this,” said Hankins.
Despite the pandemic’s history in the region, Hankins said that the schools seem fairly safe.
“I do not know of any school-based transmission that has happened since we had students back in buildings,” Hankins said.
And the district wants to keep it that way. The LKSD school board approved spending $880,704 to purchase air purifiers, which is enough to put one in every classroom, in addition to other rooms in the district’s schools.