Most schools on Prince of Wales Island plan to start the school year with a mix of at-home and classroom instruction. The island’s four school districts are trying to find middle ground in ways to structure the school year during the coronavirus pandemic.
School superintendents discussed their district’s plans at a virtual luncheon Wednesday afternoon.
Klawock, Southeast Island and Hydaburg school districts are all planning for half days in which half of the student body would come to school in the morning, and the other half in the afternoon each day. In between, staff would clean school buildings.
“We feel that’s going to be best because that way we, we can put kids in front of teachers every single day, even though it’s, you know, potentially halftime.”
That’s Klawock Superintendent Jim Holien.
Southeast Island School District has schools in the communities of Thorne Bay, Kasaan, Naukati Bay, Hyder, Hollis, Port Alexander, Port Protection, Whale Pass and Coffman Cove. It’s planning for a similar model.
There, some schools may be able to open for full-time, in-person schooling — if buildings can accommodate social distancing at full capacity. South Island’s district officials say they’ll know more after registration this week, and that the district will provide different distance options depending on students’ internet access. Superintendent Sherry Becker says plans also hinge on the constantly changing public health situation.
“It is going to be dependent upon the number of active cases on the island,” she said.
In Hydaburg, Superintendent Bart Mwarey says that the first month will also likely have half of students in the morning and half in the afternoon. Under Hydaburg’s plan, students would attend school Monday through Thursday. Fridays would be used as planning days for teachers in case schools have to shift to the red zone and send everyone home.
Mwarey says he’s worried about internet access when students cannot learn in-person, and that the district is hoping to provide financial assistance.
“It’s not going to be easy, but we’ll do our best to, to accommodate the students, giving them internet access to their homes.”
Meanwhile, Craig is the only district planning to bring students in for full days at a time instead of half-days. Superintendent Chris Reitan explained the plan.
“We would have half the students in school, you know, for two days a week. The other half would then come in the other two days, and we would serve the student, all students distanced one day of the week and do a deep clean of the buildings.”
All four districts’ models still have to go to their boards for approval in the coming weeks. Links to each district’s plans are available at KRBD.org.