Juneau students will start classes online this year - Must Read Alaska
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Thursday, September 24, 2020
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Juneau students will start classes online this year

In spite of low numbers of coronavirus, the Juneau public school buildings will remain shuttered this fall, and students will start the year in their living rooms. The school year starts on Aug. 24, a week later than previously scheduled.

“This decision has been made with much stakeholder involvement and consideration of evolving guidance from the Department of Education and collaboration with CBJ Emergency Response leaders and local health officials. As we have communicated from the beginning of our SMART START 2020 discussions, the plan is designed to be a moving scale with decisions made dependent on current conditions,” the school district said.

On Wednesday, the district will release specifics at a public forum scheduled for 5 pm.

Juneau has had 92 confirmed cases since March of COVID-19, the coronavirus. There are no people on ventilators at Bartlett Memorial Hospital. The community has nine active cases of COVID-19.

“Our goal is to balance educational needs with health and safety for our staff, students, families and community. By beginning the year with the most stable plan possible, we increase our ability to focus on quality education and to maintain a consistent schedule that families can plan around. As health conditions evolve, plans may change,” the district wrote.

The district will reevaluate after Labor Day, by inviting small groups of students to return to the classroom for face-to-face learning. Those students will be the ones with the biggest challenges with distance learning.

The link to Wednesday’s informational meeting online at 5 pm is here.

Anchorage has also made the decision to keep children from school for the first part of the school year.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Well, let’s protect Juneau. No need to risk overwhelming a small community with limited hospital resources.

    Now is the time for Governor Dunleavy to call for the full session of the legislure to be held in Anchorage.

    Mayor Berkowitz doesn’t seem to have a problem using COVID as an excuse to use executive power, neither should the governor.

    Let’s start the new year by cutting costs. Let’s cut a ton of per diem and travel.

  • Parents need to demand a ” home school” option for all students.
    I recall that Galena run such a program some 20 years ago. Students received a new computer and lesson plan supervised by a remote teacher. Word on the street was that it was a huge $ maker for the school. Perhaps Covid’s silver lining will be breaking the back of the NEA Industrial Education Complex!

    • Galena’s current program is called IDEA (Interior Distance Education Alaska) and I believe it’s the biggest homeschool cooperative in the state. We live in Anchorage and have worked with IDEA for 13 years and counting; the first of our five students graduated last year.
      IDEA students are technically registered students of Galena School District, but parents sign an agreement to be the primary teachers of their children. Each student receives an allotment (>$1K per student, the exact amount depending on grade level) that parents can spend on any non-sectarian educational curricula or activities; i.e. no religious curricula or activities can be paid for with IDEA money. Parents can, however, use whatever curriculum they know is best for their family. We use quite a bit of religious material but pay out of pocket for that. Since we have been homeschooling for more than a decade, we already have much of our curricula, so much of our allotment goes toward piano, Latin, science and physical education supplemental activities. Students who graduate receive a diploma from Galena School District/IDEA Homeschool, which smooths the way for the few remaining institutions that frown on “home education,” for students who want to go on to college.
      IDEA requirements involve designing an ILP (Individualized Learning Plan) for each student each year, and submitting samples of the students’ work quarterly and progress reports (grades) twice a year. IDEA employs “contact teachers” to help with these tasks, to the degree the parents desire help. They can guide you to curriculum, assist in working out strategies for teaching, and help you navigate the forms (which are not especially noxious). We prefer being very independent but have a high level of respect for the contact teachers we have worked with; they are extremely helpful and knowledgeable about the bureaucracy that is inevitable when dealing with a school district. Parents are, obviously, highly involved with the education of their children and IDEA also works as a source of information about extra-curricular activities such as field trips, social events, etc. There are opportunities to be involved with clubs and teams such as Academic Decathlon, FFA, Leg robotics, sports clubs, etc.
      Our children have grown and blossomed at home and have become award-winning artists, scientists and writers. We’ve really appreciated IDEA’s contribution to our children’s education and I always feel good about encouraging other families to investigate the potential.

      • How are you going to provide internet for poor bush kids who currently don’t have it?

  • Distant learning had been available for years. It is an effective tool and had helped many students graduate that have lost required class credits. It may be a safer option. The schools still need to provide a lunch program.

    • Why a lunch program? Seriously? Or was that statement a satirical joke?

      • By law, schools have to provide it. It’s all some kids get.

        • So, we have food stamps, or SNAP or whatever free food is called now. We have freight subsidized to remote communities with something called by-pass mail, which allows shippers to send food for a fraction of regular shipping rates. We have subsidized oil, electric, phone service, housing and… yet without a School Hot Lunch program kids will starve?
          Think about it.

          • Oh, Greg, how safe is food coming to your door step from one centralized kitchen?

          • It isn’t a hot lunch. More of a MRE type meal and juice box and milk. But someone had to break it down for distribution.

          • People go the the village store and spend prices as high as $12 for a bag of chips. It doesn’t go very far. Gives a bush meaning to the old company store tune.

  • Juneau should see a huge savings in its education budget. Online classes do not require the number of teachers as in person teaching does. They can furlough half the teachers & administrators. Maybe this will catch on in the rest of the state!

    • Still have to keep up the buildings. Heat them. Fix lunches and deliver the.

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