Klukwan School won’t have in-person classes after the Chilkat Indian Village council expressed its desire for the village’s school to implement distance learning.

While Klukwan School is part of the Chatham School District, which announced plans for students in Angoon, Gustavus and Tenakee Springs to attend classes in person. Klukwan principal and teacher Eric Hart said the school plans to honor the council’s wishes.

“We’re keeping everybody safe,” Hart said. “We’re respecting the village’s wishes to keep their elders safe. We’re ready to start school on Tuesday with distance education options.”

As of last Friday, the plan was for the roughly 13 students projected to enroll in Klukwan School to attend in person, but the last-minute change was made after the council’s vote.

“We’re going to send out project kits and books and we’ll have some open-air meetings and cultural activities,” Hart said. “It’s not all online by any means. It’s not all Zoom and computers.”

Klukwan school board member Tony Strong said the council wants to reduce any potential spread of COVID-19 in the village.

“They didn’t want the kids taking the virus home to their parents or people who are sensitive to infection at home like elders and people who are sick,” Strong said.

Chatham School District superintendent Bruce Houck said administrators had planned for the last three months that if the community did not have an active case directly related to the school, it would remain open. “The Chilkat Indian Village Council has made the request for the students to be online,” Houck said. “The District is sensitive to their request and appreciates their concerns for the community as a whole. 

Klukwan has two full-time teachers, Hart, the middle and high school instructor, and Tracey Thomas, the elementary school instructor.

CIV council president Kimberley Strong did not comment by press time.

The village has been closed to visitors through the pandemic.