Increasing COVID-19 cases push Fairbanks school district into red zone

A sidewalk entryway into a teal school entrance
Badger Road Elementary School (Robyne/KUAC)

An increasing number of Fairbanks North Star Borough COVID-19 cases has pushed the school district into an operational red zone.

According to a district release and a notice sent to parents Monday afternoon, the decision was made based on consultation with a School Medical Advisory Committee.  

The state defines the red zone as an average of 10 or more daily cases per one hundred thousand people in a community over the last two weeks. State red zone guidelines include distance learning and cancellation of all in-person school activities, with sports practices limited to those where 10-foot social distancing can be maintained.    

District Medical Advisory Committee chair Dr. Mishelle Nace, and district Superintendent Karen Gaborik will provide an update on the situation during school board meeting Tuesday at 6 p.m.

During a local League of Women Voters Fairbanks municipal candidate forum on Monday evening all candidates underscored the value of classroom over online learning. Seat F candidate Gregory Gregory Cahoe said the COVID-19 pandemic situation in Alaska needs to be put in perspective.

“The risk of any Alaskan dying is about 0.00042 [percent]. Let’s put this risk in context and let’s get the kids back in school please,” he said.

Seat G candidate Brandon Boylan agreed about the importance of returning students to classrooms, but cautioned against doing so now.  

“COVID numbers are going up in our community and we need to be conscious of that and think through how COVID is going to impact our kids across the district,” he said.