From Your District Leadership
June 17, 2020
Hello School District Family,
The district is fully engaged in Smart Start planning for next school year. This is a daunting task, and our plan will impact the entire community. We have included a wide variety of stakeholders to be sure we consider the full spectrum of thoughts and perspectives. As we move through the planning process, I will update you on our progress.
The most critical information I can share with you right now is this: As long as we are experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, the best-case scenario for schools is a Low Risk environment. The Green Zone describes a Low Risk environment. It is not an environment with no risk where we can assume normal operating procedures. The Green Zone requires 6 feet of social distancing, and a variety of other precautions that will significantly impact how we deliver instruction.
According to current guidelines, we will start school in August in the Green Zone. In order to ensure 6 feet of social distancing in classrooms and on school buses, we will have to utilize new learning models and student transportation schedules.
The good news is, we are working on a robust plan to provide a quality learning experience for all our students. In addition to school-based instruction, we will also provide distance learning options for families who are uncomfortable with the health risks and would like their students to access educational opportunities from home.
Below are highlights from the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, as well as other resources. Check the district website for updates to Smart Start.
I know families are anxious to learn the details about what school will look like next year. We are spending time now to be very thoughtful and intentional with our planning. As details develop, I will share those with you and send updates every couple of weeks.
ALASKA'S SMART START 2020 FOR K-12 SCHOOLS
The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) and the State of Alaska Department of Health and Human Services created these guidelines for Alaska school districts to establish plans for their districts.
WE ARE IN THE GREEN ZONE!
OVERALL DISTRICT PROTOCOLS
District information will be update at on the District's web page designated for 2020-21 School Start
Follow Alaska DEED guidelines, which are based on the CDC’s guidance for Schools and Childcare Programs.
Static student and staff groupings--Same group of children stay with the same staff (all day for young children, and as much as possible for older children).
Teach and reinforce washing hands and covering coughs and sneezes among children and staff.
Teach and reinforce the use of face coverings among all staff. Face coverings should be worn by staff and encouraged in students (particularly older students). Face coverings are most essential in times when physical distancing is difficult.
Students and staff remain home when sick.
Ensure minimal mixing between groups.
Restrict nonessential visitors, volunteers, and activities involving other groups at the same time.
Consider keeping communal spaces such as cafeterias closed. Otherwise, stagger use and disinfect in between use.
Serve meals in classrooms instead of cafeteria.
IN THE CLASSROOM
Space seating/desks to at least six feet apart.
Limit classroom based on six feet of social distancing per classroom.
Keep each child’s belongings separated from others’ and in individually labeled containers, cubbies, or areas.
Ensure adequate supplies to minimize sharing of high touch materials to the extent possible (art supplies, equipment, etc. assigned to a single student) or limit use of supplies and equipment by one group of children at a time and clean and disinfect between uses.
Avoid sharing electronic devices, toys, books, games, and learning aids.
If food is offered at any event, have pre-packaged boxes or bags for each attendee instead of a buffet or family-style meal. Avoid sharing of foods and utensils.
Gatherings, events, and extracurricular activities--only those that can maintain social distancing, support proper hand hygiene, and restrict attendance of those from higher transmission.
TRANSPORTATION TO/FROM SCHOOL
Maintain social distancing on bus transportation. If possible, seat students every other row, one student per seat (siblings can sit together) and maintain 6 feet of social distancing while entering and exiting buses. Bus drivers and attendants (and older children when possible) are encouraged to wear face coverings while on the bus.
Stagger arrival and drop-off times/locations. Limit direct contact with parents as much as possible.
OUT OF SEASON ACTIVITIES
The Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA) provided School Districts guidance specific to student activities. The Mitigation Plan developed by the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District in response to the guidance is provided on the district webpage.