School closes in Hoonah after potential COVID-19 exposure

Hoonah City Schools (Photo courtesy laughwithusblog.com)

Children were sent home early from school in Hoonah Thursday after administrators learned that a student was exposed to COVID-19.

Hoonah City Schools superintendent and principal Ralph Watkins said by phone that the student recently returned from travel outside of Hoonah and tested negative for the virus.

Due to some confusion about the city travel mandate, Watkins said they returned to school even though they should have continued isolating at home.

“We do not have any confirmed cases of COVID in the school or community,” Watkins wrote on Facebook. “We are making this change out of caution, and in line with our Smart Start Plan.”

School is canceled Friday and will go virtual on Monday.

Watkins said they’re waiting for follow-up test results for the student, but will continue to teach virtually until after Thanksgiving just in case.

Hoonah has not had anyone test positive for COVID-19 in the community.

Students there have been attending class in-person since the beginning of the school year. Watkins said 137 students from pre-K through twelfth grade go to school in the same building. Masks are required.

Watkins said they’re well prepared to transition to online learning.

All Hoonah students have internet connection and the technology they need to learn at home thanks to a partnership between the City of Hoonah, Huna Totem Corporation, Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.