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Education

Stories about education.

Krysti Shallenberger / KYUK

This is the time of year that graduating college students walk down the aisle solemnly, sometimes awkwardly. Families and friends smile, and hold up phones and cameras to snap pictures. University leaders and professors give speeches.

But the coronavirus pandemic has shut down schools, prompting all of them to cancel graduation ceremonies. The University of Alaska Fairbanks, Kuskokwim Campus in Bethel was no exception. Instead, staff took to the KYUK airwaves to recognize its 2020 graduates on May 1. 


Kuspuk School District and Lower Yukon School District appoint new superintendents for the next school year.
Kuspuk SD/LYSD

School leadership is changing hands around the Y-K Delta. The Kuspuk School District, made up of schools on the upper Kuskokwim River, and the Lower Yukon School District have both selected new superintendents for the upcoming school year.

Homework packets were available for parents to pick up at Gladys Jung Elementary School on March 18, 2020.
Katie Basile / KYUK

Many parents and students in the Lower Kuskokwim School District are now familiar with paper work packets substituting for classroom teachers. At LKSD’s last board meeting, one member blasted the work packets for being demotivating. Superintendent Dan Walker agrees with those complaints, but says that it’s hard when the most logical alternative, online learning, is not an option.


LKSD Assistant Superintendent Kimberly Hankins and her daughter Lauren wave at teachers from Gladys Jung Elementary School as they drive by in the teacher parade on April 3, 2020 in Bethel, Alaska.
Katie Basile / KYUK

On April 3, Gladys Jung Elementary School students stepped outside their homes to see their teachers honking, waving, and holding signs in a parade of teachers that followed the Bethel school bus route.

Bethel Regional High School's class of 2019 graduated May 17, 2019. The class of 2020 will likely not attend their graduation the same way this year.
Greg Kim / KYUK

All schools in Alaska are closed to students until at least May 1, but that’s only a small part of how the coronavirus outbreak has impacted the Lower Kuskokwim School District. In a board meeting on April 2, the school board changed graduation requirements for seniors, planned for using schools as quarantine shelters, and adjusted schedules for construction projects.


Former Alaska Lt. Gov. Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson, right, speaks Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, during the Gathering at the Egan Center, Anchorage, Alaska.
Tripp Crouse / KNBA

On March 25, Alaska Pacific University announced that Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson will succeed its current president, Dr. Robert Onders, on April 25.

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy gives a press conference about the novel coronavirus in early March in Anchorage.
Joey Mendolia / APM

Alaska’s public and private schools will remain closed to students through at least May 1, extending the prior classroom shutdown by a month in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, state officials announced on March 20.

Homework packets are assembled in Ava Ernst's third grade classroom at Gladys Jung Elementary in Bethel, Alaska on March 18, 2020. Schools across Alaska are closed following a state mandate put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Katie Basile / KYUK

Schools all across Alaska, including those in the Lower Kuskokwim School District, have been shuttered due to COVID-19 until at least March 30. District Superintendent Dan Walker expects the closures to last beyond that, and has been trying to plan accordingly.


Margaret Nagasiak prepares breakfast and lunch trays for parents to pick-up at Gladys Jung Elementary School on March 19, 2020. Starting on Monday, March 23, meals and school materials will be brought to designated pick-up places around town during school
Katie Basile / KYUK

During school closures, the Lower Kuskokwim School District is still providing students with meals and the materials necessary for schoolwork. Those will be delivered to students in Bethel starting Monday, March 23.

(Left to right.) 1st place, Daniel Hunter, 7th grade, Sheldon Point School; 2nd place, Celeste Katcheak, 7th grade, Tukurngailnguq School; and 3rd place, Emery Lockwood, 6th grade, Tukurngailnguq School.
Max Dan

The district and statewide Yup’ik Spelling Bees for Beginners are cancelled in response to social distancing measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The district tournament was planned for March 18 in Nunam Iqua, with the statewide competition scheduled to follow later this spring in Anchorage. Organizer Freda Dan said that the first Inupiaq Spelling Bee for Beginners has also been cancelled. The spelling bees serve to promote Yup'ik and Inupiaq literacy.

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