Ketchikan’s school board is set to consider returning middle and high school students to classrooms five days a week. That decision will be made Thursday to take effect as early as next week. The school board dialed back in-person learning for older students after local officials raised the community’s pandemic risk level to its second-highest mark following a spike in local cases
Officials upgraded Ketchikan’s risk level after health authorities attributed seven coronavirus cases to community spread within a week. The local 14-day positivity rate, which tracks the prevalence of the virus in the community, also broke a 2% threshold. That triggered recommendations to cut the capacity of middle and high schools. Elementary and charter schools were unaffected by the change — they continue to teach at full capacity five days a week.
As of Wednesday, community spread has slowed slightly, but the positivity rate remains above 2%. The risk level remains at Level 3, or “high.”
A majority of the school board said at a KRBD forum last fall that they would follow local emergency officials’ guidance when determining whether students should learn in person or remotely. The school district’s superintendent is among the senior local leaders who determine the community’s risk level after evaluating a variety of pandemic metrics.
The board is also scheduled to consider re-evaluating its quarantine policy for teachers and students exposed to COVID-19 to mirror federal guidelines. The Centers for Disease Control announced late last year that quarantines could be cut from 14 days to seven or 10 days, depending on symptoms and testing.
The school board’s second meeting in as many days starts at noon Thursday via videoconference. Members of the public can address the board at the beginning of the meeting, but they must register by 10 a.m. Thursday by contacting the board clerk by phone at 247-2142 or by email at Kerry.Waston@k21schools.org. The meeting is broadcast on local cable channels and live-streamed online.