YKHC Says All Students Can Return To In-Person School

Apr 29, 2021

Bethel Regional High School in Bethel, AK.
Credit Dean Swope / KYUK

On April 26, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation said that Y-K Delta students in all grades can return to in-person learning as long as students maintain proper physical distancing. In updated guidance to schools, YKHC said that students could return to school, even in areas where there is “high transmission” of COVID-19. 

In those communities with high-transmission, YKHC advised schools to use “cohorting,” and keep students at least 3 feet apart. If schools cannot use cohorting, then students should stay at least 6 feet apart. Cohorting is the practice of keeping a small group of students isolated together for the whole school day.

YKHC recommends that sports and extra-curricular activities remain outdoors. That’s unless COVID-19 cases are low enough in a sub-region to be considered “moderate” transmission.

YKHC has defined six sub-regions in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. The sub-region around Aniak is the only one where there is “moderate” transmission of COVID-19. The sub-region around Bethel has “substantial” transmission, and the sub-regions around Emmonak, Hooper Bay, St. Mary’s, and Toksook Bay have “high” transmission of COVID-19. The transmission levels are mostly based on how many COVID-19 cases have been detected in the last seven days, and the percentages of COVID-19 tests that are coming back positive.

Many school districts in the Y-K Delta have already allowed students in all grades to go back to classrooms. In a press release, Lower Kuskokwim School District Superintendent Kimberly Hankins wrote that schools are working on updating their plans to to reflect YKHC's new guidance. There is an LKSD regular board meeting scheduled for Thursday, April 29 at 4 p.m.