Communicable disease policy

Federal health officials warned Tuesday that Americans should prepare for the coronavirus to spread to the U.S. And Ketchikan’s school board is taking that advice. It’s set to consider a new policy on epidemic and pandemic emergencies during Wednesday night’s regular meeting.

The model policy provided by the Association of Alaska School Boards outlines how the school district would communicate with local health authorities. It would also authorize schools to purchase things like masks and gloves to prepare for a health emergency. The draft policy would also allow schools to quarantine kids or staff suspected of being sick with a serious illness, and require a doctor’s note before allowing them to return to classes.

The policy would also authorize the superintendent to order evacuations or lockdowns if necessary.

Wednesday’s agenda lists the policy as a discussion item, so the board isn’t expected to take immediate action.

Graduation requirements

In other business, Ketchikan’s school board will hear public feedback on a proposal that would change graduation requirements for high school students.

The change would drop a mandatory year of history class. But students would still be required to take three years of social studies classes, including a year of civics and a semester of Alaska history. That would leave a year-and-a-half open for a social studies elective.

The new graduation requirements would also expand what qualifies as “career and technical education.” Under the new proposal, fine arts classes would count towards a one-year requirement.

If approved, the new graduation requirements would go into effect next year.

Executive sessions

Finally, the board will hold closed-door sessions to discuss an unspecified personnel issue. Also on the agenda is something listed as “superintendent/board relations.” An email and phone call seeking clarification on what’s being discussed wasn’t immediately returned.

The board will also be briefed on upcoming negotiations with the teachers’ union. The faculty’s contract expires in June.

The Board of Education meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Ketchikan’s White Cliff building