The lost year: No school for Anchorage due to COVID spread - Must Read Alaska
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Wednesday, January 20, 2021
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The lost year: No school for Anchorage due to COVID spread


The Anchorage School Superintendent had hoped to have K-2 students back in the classroom starting Nov. 16. But that is not to be.

In a note to parents and the community, Superintendent Deena Bishop said the district will postpone in-class learning. The number of diagnosed cases of COVID-19 are spiking in Alaska and schools in Anchorage have been closed since mid-March.

The superintendent’s letter:

Dear ASD families and community,

Based on the increasing community spread of the virus and the rising demand placed on the Anchorage medical community, I am announcing this evening that the Anchorage School District will not resume in-person learning for Pre-K through grade 2, self-contained special education classrooms, or Whaley School on November 16.

The conditions across Anchorage are currently threatening to push the community’s medical capacity beyond its limits, as reflected on our COVID-19 decision monitoring. Additionally, the increasing number of close contacts has the potential to significantly reduce ASD’s ability to staff schools with predictability. Delaying in-person learning has been a heartbreaking decision, as we all have become aware that the best way to ensure we educate all children for success in life includes in-person learning.

ASD remains steadfast on getting its students back into schools and will continue its plans to do so when conditions allow. More details about the status of in-person learning for all levels of students and information about additional support services will be shared on November 15. Families in need of services are encouraged to call the District’s help line, 907-742-HELP. Help line staff are available to refer those in need to resources for food insecurities, technical assistance, and mental health resources.

In the meantime, please wear masks in public, practice good hygiene, and follow the Municipal and State health mandates. If everyone does their part in reducing the spread of the virus, the community will be on its way to getting students and staff back into the classroom where they love to be.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Anchorage has ordered all children in school to wear masks, but at this time the only children who are in school are attending private schools.

Donations Welcome


Written by

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

  • The children are better served an education by home school or private schools. The ASD commie-como employees still got FULL pay while our outstandingly political missionary city hall, drones on about a minor flu season to help gain federal aid on freshly printed currency. These same children will not have the education to gainful employment that will be required to cover the taxes and debts left by the city and failed legislature. But they will be retired and so smug about how their generation was not to be held accountable for political correctness of their time. Mara Kimmel, bring us some more people who do not know the American Pledge of Allegiance.

  • Get used to it if Biden is elected.

    • Ummm, did you get that from the news? You do understand, the Electoral College doesn’t convene until December 14, 2020, right?

  • Private schools are still in session, until at least AQD figures out how to shut them down too. The longer they do this, the closer we get to vouchers. Cheers –

  • When are the teacher lay-offs starting? Asking for a friend.

  • Is it any shock? They have no respect for the life of young in the womb. They have no respect for the life of youg that is newly born. Why is it surprising that the left would not think twice about sacrificing developmental years from the lives of kids aged 5-18? Your kids are just commodities of the state, and more specifically, of the lefts political ends. Right now, it serves for them to shut things down and assume more power and control as they diminish the private sector. It’s up to Anchorage to decide if they want more of this going forward.

  • “Acting Mayor” not “Mayor” without the “acting” qualifier it infers she was elected to the job. Let’s not validate the assembly’s shenanigans.

    • Citizen, show respect.
      The proper title is “Peoples Hyphenated Mayor”.

  • Until the people find themselves on the precipice of civil war. Listen up, you have grounds to arrest these people now.

  • Wonder what would happen if productive Anchorage residents filed a petition demanding a refund of property taxes for school services not supplied.
    A little pushback might be expected from a hostile Mayor, hostile Assembly, hostile mainstream media, hostile bureaucracy, and a court system obssessed with leniency toward violent sex offenders and getting rid of Governor Dunleavy.
    Might be nice for every property-tax payer to get a big rebate check from the Municipality while the Anchorage education industry collapses under its own weight.
    It’ll happen for a lot of property-tax payers when Eaglexit happens, so what do the rest of productive residents have to lose by going after their share?
    Force the artificial Covid hysteria to work for somebody besides government officials, that’s a good thing, yes?

  • The self-inflicted damage this school year has done will be felt for years if not decades to come.

    • Yeah it set back Alaskan kids a hundred years. Oh the humanity!

  • Spineless. The level of risk aversion amongst leaders at the ASD is off the charts. I will predict that schools will not reopen until September 2021 at the earliest. Another year of education will be lost. These folks would never have boarded the landing craft on D-Day. Actually, these folks would not have had the guts to board the troop transports heading to England.

  • Excuse me! I am way beyond fulfilling the terms of my teaching contract and my students are advancing academically.

    They don’t get to hang with their friends in crowded public buildings so that everyone is safer–even you!

    Trust me, teaching in our buildings is WAY less effort. All we want is for all of our students and all of their family members to be alive, healthy and back in our buildings asap.

    Until that’s possible… for everyone… Let’s take it down a notch!!

    • ” . . .my students are advancing academically.”

      Although some may be, I seriously doubt that the average student is advancing at the appropriate rate.

      “Trust me,”
      I’ll pass on that.

      “All we want is for all of our students and all of their family members to be alive, healthy and back in our buildings asap.

      Until that’s possible… for everyone…”

      Education isn’t about everyone; it’s about the younger generation. The three-score and ten folks (myself) are the ones who need to withdraw from active covid activities/locations.

  • Pretty amazing the schools operated through all manner of flu epidemics over the last 20-30 years, not even so much as a day of closure. Along comes a virus that is no more dangerous the the common cold and suddenly, the whole world comes to a stop.

    • I’m sorry… Is it Dr. Rubey? Can you please share which hospitals you are affiliated with? I’ll be sure not to go there for medical attention.

    • Suddenly everyone thinks he is an epidemiologist.

    • The Marxists have figured out how to use concern for the virus as a weapon to push a leftist agenda.

  • The lost year? Good grief. Come on parents you are well equipped to guide your kidlets in learning. Either by overseeing the online public school system or embracing the dive into homeschooling. Take the lead. Be part of your kids team and tell them they have a job to do and you will help. I homeschooled all my kids K-12 albeit by high school they were taking college classes for dual credit and very involved in sports. Both are now college grads. If I could manage it as a parent then most are able. The most important thing is that you are consistent and let your kids see that you take education seriously. Study right along with them. Take a college course yourself. Our kids will likely flourish and the increased family time will never be regretted.

    • For home-schooling, you are the exception parent, with adequate time, psychic energy and financial resources.

    • Elizabeth:

      Since you were able to homeschool your kids did you ever receive a tax break or any of your public school property taxes back?

      I think if you/we did the ASD would go into overdrive to ban homeschooling more than they are trying now—

      Also by homeschool the kids aren’t brainwashed to drink the kool-aid of the left like 9 of the 11 on the Assembly and the so called non-elected Anchorage Mayor.

      Congrats on getting them through college—-

      • We didn’t have children. Not that we didn’t want them but just didn’t happen.

        We are a Super Aunt and Uncle to our family.

        All of the 42 years we’ve been working and paid school taxes we have been for giving parents like you the school tax money if you choose to homeschool and would hope that would create a school district that would improve the graduation rate wanting your children and others to return to public schools—- sadly there are a large number of truely dedicated teachers out there that love what they do but are hindered by the school boards and administrations that never seem to be laid off when lay offs come around.

  • Hopefully, the Public Indoctrination Corps has slit its own throat.

  • Can ASD tell me what the following people are doing and what is the cost: 1. Building Custodians–no students in school; 2. Security folks–no students in school; 3. Bus drivers–no students in school; ASD bus drivers are supposedly hauling food to kids and the contract bus drivers are doing nothing; 4. Psychologists–no students in school; 5. Nurses–no students in school; 6. food service workers–no students in school; 7. Administrative staff–no students in school; 8. Etc.

    BTW, have the utility costs been lower? Has the diesel fuel cost been lower? Has building maintenance been lower?

    Have and ASD expenses gone down? Or is it just asking for more and more money based on the China Virus?

    • Custodians are doing deep cleaning. Security are well, securing the building against thug lives matter. Contract best drivers are probably helping out wherever there is need. Psychologists are available online to hold the hands of the snowflakes and the chicken littles. Nurses are under contract and are at the ready. Food service workers are probably boxing up the MREs and helping with food distribution. Administrative staff are administrating. Doing what they do best you know run things. Building cost probably remain steady. Yes they can turn the thermostat down a little bit which is such a small cost in the big picture probably not even worth mentioning because you got to keep the pipes from freezing right? They haven’t incurred any more costs because the federal government has chipped in so if they’re saying they need more money then I would want to see their books.

      • Nice try. But apparently you’ve never worked for a government before if you think alternative job functions – on an ad hoc basis – can be successfully sustained without massive inefficiencies, loss of employee motivation, and lackluster work-performance.

      • They promised, no new school bonds in 2021, if the last bond passed. I’ll take all comers they have their hands out on the April 6th ballot for a new bond

    • The Food Service workers that you say are not working because there are no students in class is a wrong statement.

      Food Service workers across this state are making sure that every student that wants a breakfast and lunch receive a lunch FREE OF CHARGE! This happens with all of the Student Nutrition staff making and packaging the food then it is either delivered or pickup.

      These Student Nutrition workers deserve every penny they receive and are the lowest paying staff in the Districts.

  • Good questions David we should be getting a large rebate as the city has $150 million in COVID relief plus we should not pay for them to sit home.

  • Sounds like it’s time to defund the school districts and return the tax money to the people. It’s pretty clear that decentralized education is a much better method after these last 8 months of non-performance by the municipal government school systems around the country.

  • So glad this woman is not still Matsu schools superintendent. You’re welcome, Anchorage.

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