Anchorage students to continue online learning through end of quarter

An empty hallway with a display board with a purple backgrond on the left wall
An empty hallway at Aurora Elementary in Anchorage, Alaska on October 23, 2020. (Mayowa Aina/Alaska Public Media)

The Anchorage School District will continue with online learning through December 17th according to a message from Superintendent Deena Bishop today. Students will then go on winter break until January.

Read more: Anchorage will enter ‘modified hunker down’ for December 

Bishop cited the surge in coronavirus cases in Anchorage which has stressed hospital capacity and staffing in the city. She also said the pandemic has led to difficulty staffing ASD buildings. 

Related: Hospital officials warns of ‘dire’ staffing situation ahead of holiday 

Last month, the district announced a plan to reopen school buildings on November 16th, but again postponed the plan, for the third time. It was unclear until now how long the postponement would last. 

The district has faced pushback from parents and teachers about recent attempts to reopen school buildings. But district leaders want to get students back into buildings as soon as possible. 

Related: ‘I hope someone can help us’: ASD’s decision to resume in-person learning faces growing scrutiny 

Bishop said in the message the district is working to get all students back into school buildings “as soon as community conditions allow.” 

Read the full message below: 

Dear ASD Families,

Given the continued community spread of COVID-19, the strain on hospital staffing, and challenges with predictably staffing our buildings, ASD will continue online instruction through December 17.

The District continues its planning for a gradual, phased-in approach to starting in-person learning, as our sights are set on getting kids back into school buildings just as soon as community conditions allow. I will continue the twice-monthly updates to keep you informed of the planning progress. 

We will, however, continue with our small-group, in-school tutoring sessions that have seen great success this semester. Schools across the District have significantly expanded these offerings, and after the Thanksgiving break, more than 50 elementary and secondary schools will either begin or continue in-person programs to provide additional support for small groups of students who need it most. I encourage families to reach out to their teacher or principal to learn what offerings may be available at their school.

As we continue with what has been a very unpredictable school year, it is my wish that families can celebrate Thanksgiving in a meaningful way according to their own traditions. In the upcoming days, I encourage you to reflect on what matters most for you and your family. Gatherings will likely be smaller this year, but I hope the experiences will be no less enjoyable.

I want to close by sharing some insightful, if not timely, words from Oprah Winfrey, who I have always admired for her lifelong commitment to improving people’s lives. Her words seem especially relevant this Thanksgiving — “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Although we cannot be together in our schools right now, as your superintendent, I am thankful for ASD’s students, families, and educators.

Have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sincerely,

Deena M. Bishop, Ed.D.

Superintendent