Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

School closes to students through March 29


March 19, 2020

The Haines School will keep its doors closed to students until Monday, March 30 based on Alaska Department of Education and Early Development directives. Teachers and school staff are expected to return to work on Monday, March 23.

Superintendent Roy Getchell told the CVN Wednesday afternoon that he and school administrators are prepared for plans to change at a moment’s notice.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if (more) decisions are made this week about schools in Alaska,” Getchell said. “Right now, we’re at the preliminary planning stages to see what online and distance education would look like for our students.”

About 70 percent of schools across the country have closed their doors to students and staff, some for as long as a month. In Haines, Getchell said staff is working to implement online education programs and are working to connect students who don’t have Internet access at home, a number staff are currently estimating to be under 20, Getchell said.

In the meantime, the state is urging childcare providers to stay open.

As of Wednesday, the state is mandating that people returning to Alaska from locations not considered high risk should stay six feet away from other people. The borough, however, is asking anyone who drove back to Haines from the Lower 48 or traveled through Vancouver or Seattle to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Getchell said the district will communicate with the union regarding sick leave or personal time for teachers who are returning to Alaska.

school board president Anne Marie Palmieri said at least two district staff have left the state but there could be more.

“The plan is to have staff back on the 23rd,” Getchell said. “At the same time, we’re going to follow the borough and state’s orders around quarantine. We’ll have to work on that on a case by case basis. There is a strong possibility for staff to work at home, paras or other folk to get professional development at home, to do things we’re going to need to do in the event of a more extensive closure.”

The school plans to offer bag lunches to all students during the closure and is currently planning a drive- through location where parents can pick up food. The school purchased the necessary supplies already in anticipation of the need.

“We’ve got sacks. We’ve got food,” Getchell said. “It’s not going to be halibut and quinoa, but it will be sandwiches and fruit and beverages, those kinds of things.”

Palmieri said the board hopes to meet next week to discuss staffing levels and other issues and will make decisions based on state mandates. She said the board will also consider extending the closure if state officials don’t do so before then.


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