DISTRICT NEWS & NOTES
October 8, 2020
Hello District Families and Staff,
At the October 6 meeting, the board of education voted to begin in-person school at all our high schools when we are in the Yellow Operational Zone.
The approved option for the Yellow Operational Zone is the 50% cohort model in which students will attend school two times per week in A/B cohorts. Students in cohort A will attend school on Monday and Thursday, and students in cohort B will attend school on Tuesday and Friday. Students will be expected to work independently on days they are not attending school in person. Wednesdays will be utilized for targeted instructional support. School will start each day at 9:15 a.m. and end at 2:45 p.m.
At this time, all schools now have a board approved plan for the Yellow Operational Zone. School start and end times will remain the same for elementary, K-8, middle and high school.
Below are questions and answers that will help with your planning as we look forward to schools opening.
What Zone do we have to be in for schools to open?
Schools will open to in-person/blended students if we are in the Yellow or Green Operational Zone.
What Operational Zone are we in right now?
We are currently in the Red Operational Zone. You can view the current Operational Risk Zone and the Average Case Rate Matrix on the district website.
How is the Operational Zone decision made?
The district Medical Advisory Team meets every Thursday at 4:00 p.m. to discuss and review the pertinent data, including the local case rates, and to make the Operational Zone determination.
If the Medical Advisory Committee decides we are in the Yellow Operational Zone, when will schools open?
If the Medical Advisory Committee decides on a Thursday to move to the Yellow Operational Zone, we will first ensure that First Student is ready to stand up the bus fleet. Once First Student is ready, we will schedule the opening day of school. It is our hope that schools will open the Tuesday of the following week after the Zone decision is made.
What if we stay in the Red Operational Zone?
If the Medical Advisory Committee decides the district should remain in the Operational Red Zone, schools will remain in remote learning status.
How will I be informed if schools will open?
We will utilize all our district communication platforms to notify families, and schools will provide follow-up information as needed.
How many positive cases have there been in the district?
See the new COVID-19 Cases Dashboard for the latest update on lab-confirmed positive cases. As of this writing, there have been 6 student cases and 21 staff cases since August 24, 2020.
What are Hot Spot closures?
Hot spot closures occur when the number of positive cases in a school are greater than two, and transmission within the school is a concern. Hot spot closures can occur at any time and last from 1 day to 2 or more weeks, depending on circumstances.
Hot spot closures can also occur if close contacts of positive cases require quarantining of a large number of students and/or staff at one or more schools.
What happens when there are quarantines?
Quarantines occur when people who are close contacts to a positive case are required to remain at home for 14 days. Quarantines could impact one or two people in a school, or large numbers of students and staff if mixing of groups has occurred.
What is isolation?
Isolation occurs when a person is ill. The length of isolation may vary depending on circumstances and guidance from each person’s medical provider.
Could a school be shut down because of staff absences?
Yes, a school could be shut down due if there are a high number of staff absences related to quarantines or isolations. If there are not enough staff to serve all the students enrolled in a school at a particular time, principals will work with school administrators to determine if school closure is appropriate.
Use the Daily Symptom Screening Tool every day to ensure your student does not have any symptoms before going to school.
When a student is experiencing any one or more symptoms on the CDC list of symptoms he/she will be sent home. There are three options for return to in-person learning:
Home isolation for 10 days and 24 hours fever free and symptom free without the use of medications
Consult your student’s healthcare provider who will determine if testing for COVID-19 is indicated. If your student is tested and the results are negative the student may return to in-person school.
Consult your student’s healthcare provider who will determine if the symptoms experienced are NOT related to COVID-19. Your provider can complete the Return to School/Work Doctors Note and the student may return to in-person school.
If your student gets a test for COVID-19, he/she may not participate in district sponsored activities or in-person school while the results of the test are pending.
It’s been such a beautiful fall, but we know winter is on its way! That means at any time we could experience freezing rain and icy roads in Fairbanks and across the borough.
Even though we are in the middle of a global pandemic, we will respond as normal to inclement weather, regardless of our operational zone.
If schools are closed, all students will stay home. There will be no expectation of remote learning because we often experience power outages and many households could have connectivity issues.
If we implement Alternate Bus Stops/Routes, students that are currently attending in person school and riding a bus may have alternate pickup and dropoff locations. Be sure to check the district's Alternate Bus Stops and sign up for Late Bus Notifications.
Families who need another adult to pick up your students from the alternate bus stop at the end of the day should complete a permission slip with your school’s front office now.
If the start of school is delayed to allow more time for travel in the morning, families can find each school’s delayed start schedules on the school website. In the event of a delayed start, schools typically begin 1.5 hours later than normal.
We will utilize all our normal communication platforms to inform families and staff regarding school closures and delayed starts.
More information, including the Inclement Weather Decision-Making Chart and school bus notification information can be found on the district website.
TEACHING AND LEARNING
The end of the first quarter is October 16.
Remember that students in elementary and middle school receive quarter grades.
This year high school students will receive 3 “quarter-mester” grades worth .5 or 1 semester of credit. Secondary students enrolled in eLearning are still working on a traditional semester schedule. Grades will be traditional, however the indicators NS or NG may be used to indicate that there hasn’t been sufficient evidence of learning to earn a grade.
If you wish to switch your child from one learning model to another, the quarter is a nice time to make a switch. If your student is in an elementary school, contact your school principal to start that process. Secondary students should contact their school counselor.
When a school closes, our Custodial Manager meets with the school’s custodial crew and lays out the plan for doing an emergency cleaning of the entire facility. Instruction is given on the level of PPE required and the process for donning and removing that PPE.
Hands on training is conducted on the use of the electrostatic sprayer (pictured) and specific tasks are assigned to each member. Rooms and areas are checked off on a map, as they are completed, until the entire facility is done.
Cyber-criminals often use current news, sensational topics, and promises of shocking photos and video to get you to click on malicious links.
Don't fall for it!
Stop and think before you click. Always double-check that you're on a legitimate School District site before entering your password!
Kids Voting North Alaska is gearing up for the Presidential Election with several activities for students!
* Kids Voting Theme Contest, Your Voice Counts. Vote! Entries due on November 13. More information: https://www.k12northstar.org/Page/8808
* eVote opening October 26th. Look for instructions from your teacher and/or home school coordinator with your eVoting password.
* Kids Voting North Alaska facebook page, shares resources to learn more about voting, the election, and citizenship. check it out:
Board of Education
School Board Action Report from the October 7, 2020 Regular meeting.
Tuesday, October 13th
5:30 pm: Board Budget Committee
Thursday, October 15th
All Day: Great Alaska Shakeout
5:30 pm: Board Diversity Committee
Monday, October 19th
6:30 pm: Board Work Session
Tuesday, October 20th
The Board will review the Smart Start plan at each regular meeting.
6:00 pm: Board of Education Meeting
Wednesday, October 21st
5:00 pm: Open Circles: Conversations Around Issues of Race and Equity: These Open Circles events are open to everyone and are designed to welcome people into an ongoing conversation around current social topics. The goal of each meeting is to raise awareness and provide our community a way to engage in powerful conversations.
This next Open Circles forum will focus on the experience of race, equity and inclusion from a student perspective. Please join us to listen, share and gain awareness.
Operational Zones and District Medical Advisory Committee
The school district is currently in the Red Operational Zone. The borough case rate trends continue to increase. Those trends were the primary factors considered by the district Medical Advisory Committee this week to make district operational zone determinations. Dr. Mishelle Nace is the committee physician chair and provides regular updates to the Board of Education.