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Education

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Lower Kuskokwim School District

Lower Kuskokwim School District Superintendent Kimberly Hankins looks at what it will take to reopen Bethel classrooms, how athletic programs will work, and the effort to create district-wide virus testing programs and tracking systems.


A young boy picks up his breakfast and lunch from a "Meals on Wheels" bus set-up by the Lower Kuskokwim School District during state mandated school closures. March 23, 2020 in Bethel, Alaska.
Katie Basile / KYUK

On Monday, Aug. 24, the first day of school, Bethel students will remain at home instead of heading to classrooms. School administrators hope that the kids will be able to come into classrooms part-time by Sept. 8, as originally planned. Lower Kuskokwim School District Superintendent Kimberly Hankins says that this will depend on whether the recent spike of coronavirus cases is contained.

Krysti Shallenberger / KYUK

It all began over a photo.

“A couple of our staff reached out to Donlin to use a picture from their website,” said Dan Walker, then-superintendent of the Lower Kuskokwim School District, in February. He retired at the end of July.

For nearly a decade, LKSD, the biggest school district in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, has been developing a place-based curriculum for its students. Typically, textbooks used in other parts of the country are not applicable to students in rural Alaska. 


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

The recent increases in COVID-19 cases in Bethel has prompted the Lower Kuskokwim School District to revise its plans. The district has now announced that it will start the school year for Bethel students remotely. The start date for LKSD will remain Aug. 24.

Ethan Sundown / KYUK

Limited in-person schooling, sports, and after-school activities are all scheduled to begin Aug. 24 for Lower Kuskokwim School District students. But Superintendent Kimberly Hankins says that the district is keeping an eye on the recent surge in cases of COVID-19 in the region.

The Lower Kuskokwim School District is offering breakfast and lunch to all students.
Lower Kuskokwim School District

Lower Kuskokwim School District Superintendent Kimberly Hankins says that smaller classes and lunch at the desk are some of the changes ahead for students this year. She outlines changes to both classes and school athletic programs, saying that each school will be a bit different, but all students will be attending classes with the same small group of 12 or fewer kids. It’s called a “cohort” system.

Greg Lincoln / Delta Discovery

Kids going to school in the Lower Kuskokwim School District this year will be spending the entire time with the same small group of students, 12 or less, according to the plan described by Superintendent Kimberly Hankins. It will mean that students will be spending most of the time in classrooms together, and even eating lunch there. It’s called a “cohort” system.

Katie Basile / KYUK

With the start of the school year rapidly approaching, what will school look like? The answers are changing as guidelines from the state change and the pandemic spikes in Alaska. 

Dean Swope / KYUK

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. 

With the beginning of the school year around the corner, the Bethel 4-H Program is still working to put its after-school programs in place. The problem is how to do it safely to protect students and staff from the coronavirus.


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