Juneau schools change course on plan for in-person learning

The offices of the Juneau School District, pictured here on Aug. 6, 2020, are located at 1208 Glacier Ave., in Juneau.
The offices of the Juneau School District, pictured here on Aug. 6, 2020, are located at 1208 Glacier Ave., in Juneau. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

The Juneau School District has shifted gears on its decision to expand in-person classes. Earlier this week, the district announced that kindergarten students could go back to the classroom later this month. But after several discussions between teachers, parents and staff, that plan has been postponed until after the holidays.

Superintendent Bridget Weiss said the change was a response to the COVID-19 alert Gov. Mike Dunleavy sent to Alaskans Thursday morning.

“It was simply looking at the cause of concern that that announcement made in our staff,” Weiss said. “It made sense to wait until January before we started new cohorts.”

Those cohorts are the small groups of preschool through first-grade students the district planned on bringing back to in-person classes first. Now, in-person classes for all students are set to begin Jan. 11 at the earliest.

“We decided initially, to delay until the 11th for any in-person just to provide a little more distance for any staff or families that may travel over the holidays,” Weiss said.

Schools are still providing online instruction and in-person services for students who need them. Weiss noted that the district will not go to full distance delivery and continue to provide these services safely as long as Juneau stays below a level four risk level, which is the highest level. The community is currently at level three.