Voices of Alaska Education
Our Mission: To advocate for children and youth by assisting school boards in providing
quality public education, focused on student achievement, through effective local governance.
Special Edition - May 18, 2020
To help keep you informed of rapidly changing new developments, special editions of Commentary will be published weekly through the end of the 2020 school year.
2020 School Climate & Connectedness Survey Results Released!
Jenni Lefing, AASB School Climate and Conference Coordinator
Last week (May 11), 2020 School Climate & Connectedness Survey (SCCS) results were released to the 32 school districts that took the statewide survey this past spring. While how students are learning and how staff are teaching looks completely different than it did two months ago, student, staff and family perceptions about schools’ strengths and challenges have not gone away.
Jenni Lefing
The importance of school climate does not stop when you leave a “brick and mortar” school. Feeling safe, connected, and welcomed is all about relationships- which extend well beyond a school building. It is even more important now for students and staff to have a positive school climate and for schools to have insight into what their school community perceptions are.
2020 School Climate & Connectedness Survey participation:
AASB Announces Annual Conference Theme and Call for Presenters
While we may not know exactly what our annual conference will look like this November, we can (and are excited to) announce our 2020 annual conference theme:  Transforming Education Through Connections.
Whether learning takes place in schools or via distance, connections are key for students to learn, school staff to create positive conditions for learning, and school boards to support school districts.

How have connections been helping your school districts? We are looking for school districts to share their experiences at this year’s Annual Conference. Potential session topics include Building Partnerships, Distance Delivery, Bi-lingual Education, Equity, Conducting Board Meetings, and Subsistence Food in Schools.

If your district is interested in sharing or have suggestions on potential speakers, please contact Jenni Lefing .
2020-2021 AASB Conference Dates
We've received lots of inquiries about AASB's schedule of upcoming conferences and events.

Here's the latest info.

2020 Policy Updates

Lon Garrison and Timi Tullis demonstrate how to access and download the 2020 AASB Policy Updates, review this year's policies and AR's, and explain which are required for Boards to adopt, and which are recommended.

Practice Safe Zooming!
These Zoom Security Protocols for setup and hosting will help keep your meetings safe and protect student privacy.

Sen. Murkowski stresses the need for 'substantial i nvestment' in K-12 schools through Title I, IDEA, and Impact Aid
Senator Lisa Murkowski is urging Senate leaders to provide additional relief and support for the nation's schools to address the ongoing challenges they face and the impact the pandemic will have on education budgets over the next 18 months.

Murkowski joined a group of Senate colleagues in sending two letters to Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Chairman Shelby, and Vice Chairman Leahy requesting that additional investments beyond the CARES Act be made in K-12 schools.
Senator Lisa Murkowski
The first letter points out the need to ensure educators and school support staff continue to be there for students and asks for “substantial, flexible, additional investments” for K-12 schools through Title I and IDEA, and that schools be included in any infrastructure package.

"Less than 1% of the CARES Act funding was specifically dedicated to supporting public schools. This is insufficient to stabilize education through this crisis. We are particularly concerned about how the educator workforce and other school personnel will be impacted by COVID-19," the letter states.

"School districts rely almost entirely on state and local revenue. Low-wealth districts rely the most heavily on state aid and will be most impacted by the economic implications of this crisis. It is our duty to ensure that children receive the education they are rightfully entitled to. Students cannot learn if their schools are forced to downsize operations, eliminate teaching positions in critical subjects, or lay off other critical support staff such as social workers and counselors, due to depleted budgets."

The second letter requests that a supplemental investment through Impact Aid be included as a priority in the next relief package.

Free Children's Book Answers Questions About Coronavirus
This illustrated digital book for primary school age children is about the coronavirus and the measures taken to control it. To ensure the book is accessible to every child and family, it is offered free of charge to anyone to read on-screen or to print out.

The book creation team included consultant Professor Graham Medley of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, with advice from two head teachers and a child psychologist.
The book answers key questions in simple language appropriate for 5 to 9 year olds:
  • What is the coronavirus?
  • How do you catch the coronavirus?
  • What happens if you catch the coronavirus?
  • Why are people worried about catching the coronavirus?
  • Is there a cure for the coronavirus?
  • Why are some places we normally go to closed?
  • What can I do to help?
  • What’s going to happen next?

Alaska Summer Activities Updates
Alaska Dept. of Health & Social Services Urges Alaskans to "Fish On, Safely."
No matter what kind of fishing you do – commercial, sport, subsistence or personal use – the State is urging everyone to fish safely this summer. Commercial fisherman will be required to have protective plans in place prior to the fishing season to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Sport, personal use and subsistence fishing remain open, but anglers need to follow the state’s health mandates and please be considerate of others.
Fishing is important to Alaskans – to fill our freezers, sustain our families and enjoy the outdoors – but let’s do it safely and respectfully!

  • Fish as close to home as possible.
  • If you do travel, make sure you know about any special rules in the communities you plan to travel through and abide by them.
  • Stock up on supplies before you go. Minimize stops and interactions in other communities.
  • Keep at least six feet from others who are not in your immediate household.
  • Wear a cloth face covering when out in public or when it’s hard to keep at least six feet from others.

Be well, be safe and for more information, including the health mandates, visit covid19.alaska.gov.
Some Alaska summer camps prepare to reopen with new rules, reduced capacity
Tegan Hanlon, Alaska Public Media
Trailside Discovery Camp director Vicki Long-Leather always has a lengthy list of supplies to order for her summer programs in Anchorage and Palmer. But, this year, there’s even more to buy, including more hand sanitizer, thermometers, disinfectant wipes, face masks and art supplies. Long-Leather is among camp directors across Alaska who are redoing their summer programs to prepare to welcome campers during the pandemic.
Vicki Long-Leather is the director at the Trailside Discovery Camp. Kids’ camps are adapting to the new
social-distancing reality.
Photo: Tegan Hanlon
Programs are wrestling with new state requirements and the money needed to implement them, said Thomas Azzarella, Director of the Alaska Afterschool Network. The state is requiring day camps to limit groups to no more than 10 campers. Staff must use cloth face coverings, and older children are encouraged to wear them too. Everyone also needs to go through daily health screenings. Field trips involving other groups are not allowed.

The Department of Health and Social Services has issued requirements for the operation of Childcare and Day Camps .

Alaska could be empty of tourists this summer. For residents, there’s an upside.
Nathaniel Herz, Alaska Public Media
After a spring of grim coronavirus headlines, Alaska faces a near-apocalyptic outlook for its summer tourist season, with few out-of-state visitors likely to follow through on plans to travel to the state this year.

But for a moment at Denali National Park and Preserve on Saturday, a handful of tailgaters contemplated a few possible upsides: Resident discounts. Busy fishing holes transformed into blissful calm. Open roads normally clogged with RVs. Cruise destinations with no ships in sight.

Bicyclists pedal up toward Sable Pass on the Denali Park Road on Saturday. Photo: Nathaniel Herz
Border closure leaves Southeast Alaskans cut off from backyard
The Associated Press
Some residents in Southeast Alaska who have seen the border with Canada closed because of the coronavirus feel cut off from an area they visit and drive through frequently.

Haines, Skagway and Hyder all have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting border closure that has altered life dramatically for some, The Anchorage Daily News  reported Monday.
A road sign in Haines, 39 miles south of the Canadian border, in March 2020. Photo: Henry Leasia/KHNS
The communities are connected to the rest of the state by the Alaska Highway through Canada and each place depends on its neighboring Canadian town for necessities such as food, health care and medicine and various activities conducted across the border.

The U.S.-Canada border closed March 20 to all nonessential traffic and the closure was recently extended to May 21. Yukon has stringent travel restrictions and quarantine requirements for anyone entering the territory until it is no longer in a state of emergency.

Alaska’s ferry fans feel shortchanged by state’s federal funding request
Jacob Resneck, CoastAlaska
Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration has filed a four-year request for federal support for the state’s transportation needs. But critics say it prioritizes highways and bridges over fixing the state’s aging ferry fleet.

The governor  held a press conference earlier this year that focused solely on Alaska’s ferry system. The fleet’s  last operating mainliner had just broken down causing what would be a nearly six-week shutdown of regional service.
The Aurora, a 235-foot Alaska state ferry, approaches the dock in Whittier, its departure point for its trip across Prince William Sound to Cordova.
Photo: Nathaniel Herz
“We are doing everything we can to work on fixing this issue — and like I said — coming together to come up with a sustainable solution that’s gonna go forward for many years,” he told reporters on Feb. 19.

In Juneau and Anchorage, pop-up drive-in movies are offering the only show in town
James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News
With movie theaters closed, parties postponed and events canceled by the coronavirus pandemic, Alaskans hungry for social interaction are turning to a handful of temporary drive-in theaters across the state. Built by volunteers and run for free (or by donation), they’re showing classic films on outdoor screens that compete with summer’s lengthening daylight.

In Alaska’s capital city, Collette Costa normally runs Gold Town Nickelodeon, the town’s art-house movie theater. “I’ve been wanting to do some kind of drive-in situation for years,” she said. “Having the time to do that was never going to happen until hey, global pandemic.”
In Juneau, the owner of the capital city's art-house movie theater, the Gold Town Nickelodeon, has created a pop-up drive-in at the city yacht club. On Monday, May 4, the theater offered a showing of ’Star Wars’ shortly after sunset. The theater is one of several that have emerged during the coronavirus pandemic.
Photo: Christopher Miller, csmphotos.com
She borrowed a projector from the theater and built a screen using a tarp from Home Depot and some help from the local home-recycling shop. The City and Borough of Juneau provided a spot at the town yacht club, and volunteers guided cars into place. Sound came from a small FM radio transmitter to each vehicle. On May 4, the open-air theater had its first public performance: “Star Wars.”

“It’s not the best drive-in you’re ever going to go to, but it’s the best drive-in you’re going to go to in Southeast Alaska for a while,” she said.

District Dispatches


Under what conditions will your district
consider re-opening schools this fall?

Aleutians East Borough School District
Carleen Hoblet, School Board
Only if state mandates allow.
Anchorage School District
Deena Bishop, Superintendent
Even if school starts in-person as usual, the district will have extra health precautions in place. 'Low-risk’ does not mean ‘the way it used to be.’ A high-risk scenario likely means that school buildings would be closed and classes online. The district is preparing to launch its classes as “online hybrid" so it can switch between in-person and online learning as risk levels change. We could move in and out of any of these risk levels at any time during the year.
Hydaburg City School District
Bart Mwarey , Superintendent
No active cases in June, July and August
Skagway School District
Jaime Bricker, School Board
If there are no confirmed covid 19 cases in Skagway around the time of reopening, I suggested we get kids back in the classroom with stringent cleaning and disinfecting in place. We need to address as a board all of the issues listed on the ASA Elements for Consideration for a return to learning. This includes support from parents, teachers and community on returning with solid virus mitigation processes in place.
Yukon-Koyukuk School District
Kerry Boyd, Superintendent
Clear guidance from the medical community and communication between community members and the Governor, DEED, and District indicating satisfaction with the conditions to open. Families need assurance it’s safe to send their children back to school. Staff need the same assurance. Schools need the required health measures in place.
Well-Being Resources
Being quarantined at home for extended periods can increase the amount of stressors for families, students, and teachers connecting remotely. Here are resources to help.
Free one-hour COVID-19 Coping Session
by Zoom or Phone

The UAA Psychological Services Center (PSC) is offering free telehealth COVID-19 Coping Sessions for people struggling with sadness, loneliness, anxiety, trouble sleeping, lack of motivation or other behavioral health issues while dealing with these trying times.

Call 786-1795
to schedule.
Careline is free and confidential. We treat callers with respect and listen without judgment

Contact us if:
  • you are in crisis.
  • you are a survivor (of an attempt, or if you lost someone to suicide).
  • you are grieving.
  • you are concerned about someone.
  • you are feeling down and need someone to talk to.

Mortgage and housing assistance during the coronavirus national emergency

If you're concerned about how to pay your mortgage or rent due to the coronavirus national emergency, get information here on what to do now, Learn about your options
for mortgage and rent payment relief, and find out which ones you may qualify for.

The stress-relieving, storytelling art of yuraq is now available virtually
Isabelle Ross, KDLG, Dillingham
Atkiq Ilutsik-Snyner teaches yuraq traditional dancing and singing in via Facebook video. This particular dance is called Ellamta Nunanirqutii — Our World’s Inner Beauty. Ossie Assanaaq Kairaiuak from the band Pamyua composed it for the Bristol Bay region.

“You always want to start on the right side. You’re going, ‘The world out there, the world in here, we dance it,'” Ilutsik-Snyner begins.
Atkiq Ilutsik-Snyder teaches a virtual yuraq session on Facebook May 1, 2020. (Screenshot from Bristol Bay-am Qasgia/Na qenq’a Facbook page)
Ilutsik-Snyder grew up in Dillingham and Aleknagik. Now, she lives in Anchorage and works as the culture camp project director at the Bristol Bay Native Corporation. She had a lot of plans for this year, including piloting its first in-person cultural camp. “That had to be placed on hold due to COVID-19,” she said.

Since people aren’t able to get together in person, Ilutsik-Snyder said they are finding ways to get together virtually. Bristol Bay Native Corporation created a Facebook group to host virtual yuraq and yugtun sessions. It’s called Bristol Bay-am Qasgia/Na qenq’a.

H&SS Health Alert: Recommendations Regarding the Use of Cloth Face Coverings

Face coverings help to minimize transmission while people are around others outside of their household in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies).

CDC Self Check Coronavirus Symptoms
and Testing guide

Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms, which may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Watch for symptoms and warning signs to know when to seek emergency medical care immediately.
Learn how to care for yourself or others.
Get a
COVID-19 test

All ANMC patients can be seen at our drive-thru site.
Go to the testing site at 3925 Tudor Centre Drive. Hours:
9 am - 9 pm Mon - Sat
10 am - 6 pm Sun

If you are not in Anchorage, please visit the State testing site locator page to find a testing location near you.
What Alaska Native Corporations are doing to help Alaska Native communities cope with the pandemic
Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media
Koniag, the Alaska Native regional corporation for Kodiak island, was designed to be a for-profit company. Now, with the coronavirus threatening to disrupt the normal supply lines, Koniag President Shauna Hegna says one focus is on feeding the island.

“The issue has become extremely important in the midst of a pandemic with global travel bans,” Hegna said. “Right now is a time in which we must have food security for our people.”
The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act divided the state into 12 areas, each represented by a regional corporation. A 13th represents Alaska Natives out of state. Image: Alaska Dept. of Labor
The corporation is helping the island’s tribal health organization to deliver groceries to tribal offices, for distribution to homes in the communities Koniag represents. Hegna said Koniag is also supporting the development of community farms and gardens. It’s contributed to a meal program for Kodiak seniors, and it’s donated to a program that’s delivering meals via school bus to vulnerable children in Kodiak city.

Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Survey
Alicia Nelson, Health Communications Specialist, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, has created a poll on COVID-19 messaging for long-term change. You can respond to the short 3-question anonymous ANTHC poll here. Alicia also shared a communication tool that she has developed and will update based on survey results:  COVID Communications Tool: Sample Facilitator Guide for Interviews & Focus Groups.

Questions? Please email Alicia Nelson
Education Resources
Summer Computer Science Workshops Offered through Zoom
Alaska Staff Development Network is offering blended online professional development opportunities for educators learning to teach computer science in the fall. Provide opportunities for Alaska students to master the Alaska Computer Science Standards and be career ready for jobs that require computational thinking, critical thinking, logic, and collaboration.
  • CS Fundamentals – 2 online offerings, 1 credit. Designed for K-5 elementary educators new to teaching computer science. July 29-30, and Aug 4-6.
  • CS Discoveries – 2 online offerings, 2 credits. Designed to support middle and high school teachers before and during their first year teaching the Code.org professional learning program. Scholarships are available. July 27-31, and Aug 3-7. 
  • CS Principles- 1 online offering, 2 credits. Designed to support middle and high school teachers before and during their first year teaching the Code.org professional learning program. Aug 3-7 

Achieve3000 Webinar Series
Closing the Gap: Mitigating Potential Learning Loss
A presentation examining the learning gap that will occur as a result of the extended school closures. 
Research Brief: Impact of School Closures on Student Learning
A research study on COVID-related learning loss conducted in a consortium with the Successful Practices Network and the Center for College & Career Readiness revealed that since schools were forced to close due to the coronavirus pandemic shows that students are on track to lose up to 49% (about 5 months) of their potential reading growth by the start of next school year. In addition, this study revealed that the achievement gap between students from lower- and higher-income schools is predicted to widen by up to 18%.
Amazon Business for Distance Learning
Working with national education associations, Amazon has identified a variety of items schools need. Educators can find distance learning resources including books, electronic devices, instructional materials and shelf-stable foods—all in stock and able to be shipped quickly to multiple locations.

Coronavirus Information and Resources
DHSS Alaska Coronavirus Response Hub

The AK COVID-19 Dashboard from Alaska DHSS provides information, maps and resources about the coronavirus response in your local area. All data are updated daily at noon.

NEW Coronavirus Resources for Districts
Frequently updated resources for boards, administrators, educators, parents and families. The latest coronavirus information from state and national health organizations.
NEW Resources for Parents and Educators with Students at Home
An ever growing list of ideas and materials to support teachers, parents, and caregivers in search of ways to deliver instruction and daily activities to students learning remotely at home.
NEW Alaska Coronavirus Newsfeed
A summary of statewide Alaska media coverage
of the coronavirus pandemic impact. Updated daily.
On-Demand Webinars
AASB webinars for School Boards and Educators on conducting meetings and delivering instruction online, plus these other AASB webinar resources:
Internet Service Providers

Free GCI Internet Upgrades Thru May 31
In response to COVID-19, many Alaskans are working from home, adopting new social-distancing behaviors and managing students who are home from school due to closures. To support this new way of living and doing business, GCI is offering special packages to support Alaskans’ expanding need for connectivity at home. More Info
ACS Provides Free Pubic Access WiFi at Ten Anchorage and Fairbanks Schools, looking for other locations in the state. More Information

Special offers for new or upgraded service for the remainder of the school year from ISPs, including ACS , ASTAC , GCI , KPU , MTA , and 2.5 GHz Rural Tribal Window from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Federal & State Government News
Please Note - Some news outlets may require registration or a paid subscription for link access. Others may grant free access to a limited number of articles before requiring a paid subscription.
Federal, state and Tribal health partners travel to rural communities to learn about sanitation concerns and preparations for the fishing season
A small group of federal, state and Tribal health officials is traveling to several communities across Alaska this week to listen to community concerns and determine what additional resources are needed to help prevent COVID-19 from impacting our state’s fishing communities and the fishing industry.
The group includes Dr. Alexander Eastman, the senior medical officer at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Jeff Birks, his chief of staff. Alaska Department of Health and Social Services representatives include Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer, and Heidi Hedberg, director of Public Health. Also traveling with the group will be Ben Stevens, the governor’s chief of staff, and  Dr. Robert Onders, medical director of Community and Health Systems Improvement with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC).

Prior to traveling, all travelers were tested for COVID-19; all tests were negative. Everyone traveling will be wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and taking other preventive measures to prevent COVID-19.

Seasonal worker in Dillingham tests positive for COVID-19
Morgan Krakow, Anchorage Daily News
A seasonal worker in the southwest Alaska city of Dillingham has tested positive for COVID-19, state officials announced Saturday. The Trident Seafoods worker was tested for the virus at the end of a two-week long quarantine required by the city, according to an electronic release from the state’s COVID-19 Unified Command Joint Information Center.
After receiving the positive test result, the worker was isolated and was set to leave Dillingham later Saturday through transportation arranged by Trident Seafoods. “Although the individual is doing well and does not require hospitalization, Trident determined it would be best to transport the individual out of the community out of an abundance of caution to help protect Bristol Bay communities,” the release said.

The region is preparing for the Bristol Bay commercial salmon fishery, the biggest by volume in the world. Last year, the total value of the catch set a record at $306 million. Trident is one of nearly a dozen seafood processors that offered a plan earlier this spring to keep ensure safety as processing workers, fishermen and others stream into the region.

The individual was part of a group of “several workers quarantining in the same location,” but was the only one to test positive. Given that those workers were in close contact with the person who tested positive, they must all continue with another 14-day quarantine, the release said.

Secretary DeVos Announces New Grant Competition for School Districts to Launch Student-Centered Funding Program
U.S. Secretary of Education DeVos has announced a $3 million grant competition that will give school districts the opportunity to launch student-centered funding programs. The competition, authorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), will allow up to 50 school districts to combine eligible federal funds with state and local funds in order to allocate resources based on students’ individual needs.
“This clear and quantifiable way to allocate education funding provides much-needed transparency, predictability, and autonomy at the local level, and helps to ensure the money follows students who need the most support,” said Secretary DeVos.

COVID-19 Testing Key to Reopening Schools, Health Officials Tell Senators
Evie Blad, Education Week
Without a vaccine to halt the spread of the coronavirus, widespread testing and tracing of the illness will be essential to ensure public confidence that children can safely return to school in the fall, federal health officials told a Senate committee Tuesday.
Such testing will be necessary to determine if states are ready to ease restrictions that have shuttered schools and businesses and to trace inevitable reemergence of the coronavirus in some areas after schools welcome students back, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's chief epidemiologist, told the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee.

What does COVID-19 testing look like?
Watch Dr. Anne Zink get tested
Alaska's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Anne Zink, demonstrates how drive-thru coronavirus testing works, as she gets tested in her car.

Survey reveals Alaska children are playing less during the pandemic, which is concerning for their physical and mental health
Alaska kids are now getting less physical activity and more non-academic screen time than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic began.
That’s what nearly 750 parents across Alaska said when filling out a recent survey from the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS). Parents from every region of the state responded, but about 70% of them were from Anchorage, the Mat-Su Borough or Fairbanks area.

As Alaska reopens, precautions still apply but families can slightly expand their social bubbles to feel more connected with others
As communities across Alaska are starting to reopen responsibly and certain businesses have opened their doors, families are wondering what that might also mean for social interactions. Should we keep staying 6 feet away from others? Can families and friends start socializing with another family or friend? Can kids play together? Can you go for a hike with your best friend?
Many people are feeling lonely. They want more social contact or could use some help with child care. One choice as we reopen is to slightly expand your social bubble to be more connected with a few close friends or family who help support each other, while continuing to prevent a considerable increase in infections.

Federal Advocacy & Public Policy Update
An overview of national education policy developments from the National School Board Association.
Congressional Update
  • Senator Markey and 44 Co-sponsors Introduce Emergency E-rate Legislation
  • Senate HELP Committee Holds Hearing About Safely Returning to School
  • House Democrats Introduce New Pandemic Response Bill
Administration Update
  • Department of Education Publishes FAQs to Support CARES Act Implementation
  • Department of Education Launches Weighted Funding Grant Competition
Notable K-12 Bills
  • H.R.943 Never Again Education Act
  • H.R.6825 To increase the amount of loan forgiveness available to teachers.
  • H.R.6811 To amend the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 to increase the age of eligibility for children to receive benefits under the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children, and for other purposes.
  • H.R.6801 To provide reimbursements for the emergency operational costs of school food authorities during the COVID-19 pandemic, and for other purposes.
  • H.Res.959 Recognizing the roles and contributions of the teachers of the United States in building and enhancing the civic, cultural, and economic well-being of the United States.
  • S.Res.571 A resolution congratulating the students, parents, teachers, and leaders of charter schools across the United States for making ongoing contributions to education and supporting the ideals and goals of the 21st annual National Charter Schools Week, to be held May 10 through May 16, 2020.
  • S.3659 A bill to provide State and local workforce and career and technical education systems the support to respond to the COVID-19 national emergency.
NSBA Updates
  • NSBA will provide additional information on the HEROES Act upon final expected passage by the U.S. House of Representatives. Focus during the coming days will move to the U.S. Senate with particular emphasis on recruiting Republican senators to support the $4 billion in funding for the homework gap that would be directed to E-Rate program.

Federal School Safety Clearinghouse
co-hosts webinar series
This webinar series is intended to help the academic community learn more about the tools and resources featured on SchoolSafety.gov and offered through their partner organizations.
Take Action to Make Your School Safer:
The Administrator's Role

Wednesday, May 20, 2020, 4:00 - 5:00 PM EDT
The Federal School Safety Clearinghouse and the National School Board Association are hosting this school safety webinar for School Board members and Administrators to highlight the resources, tools, and information offered on SchoolSafety.gov and through the NSBA.

T ake Action to Make Your School Safer:
The SRO & Law Enforcement Role

Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 4:00 - 5:00 PM EDT
This webinar is designed for School Resources Officers and Law Enforcement to learn more about the resources, tools, and information offered on SchoolSafety.gov and through the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO).

House Passes COVID-19 Bill With Aid for Schools. It Has Slim Chances in Senate
Evie Blad, Education Week
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a new $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill Friday that includes additional aid for K-12 schools, but which has little chance of becoming law.
Photo: Education Week
The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions, or  HEROES Act, passed  208-199. It faces an icy reception in the Republican-controlled Senate, where lawmakers who are concerned its provisions extend beyond pandemic relief, have said they won't consider the bill.

Education funding included in the relief package falls short of the goals of education groups, who pushed federal lawmakers to include  at least $250 billion for education in the bill.

outlining how passage of the HEROES Act is critical to public schools.
Alaska legislative panel approves sweeping coronavirus economic aid plan
James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News
A committee of the Alaska Legislature approved Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s plan to spend federal coronavirus aid on Monday, but a handful of lawmakers warned that their vote might not be legal.
The governor’s plan calls for $568.5 million to cities and boroughs, as much as $100 million for fishermen and fishing businesses, and $289.3 million for small businesses that have not received aid from existing federal programs. Other sections of the plan approved Monday include $10 million to fight homelessness and $52 million for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.

Legislative attorneys previously warned that a vote of the full Legislature is needed to legally approve the three biggest pieces of the governor’s plan. The governor has said he disagrees with that interpretation.

Members of the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee agreed with the governor, citing the need to get money to Alaskans quickly, and overturned chairman Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage, to approve the plan.

The plan has three main pieces:

Juneau man sues to block state’s $1.5 billion coronavirus aid plan, citing improper process
Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO, Juneau
A Juneau man filed a  lawsuit seeking to stop the state government from sending more than $1 billion in federal CARES Act money to municipalities, small businesses and others, unless the Legislature takes further action.
The Alaska State Capitol
Photo: Tripp J Crouse
Eric Forrer, a retired carpenter and former University of Alaska regent, alleged in the lawsuit that the process Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration and a legislative committee followed to approve the funds isn’t constitutional.

Alaska Legislature plans to reconvene in Juneau to pass federal relief after lawsuit
Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO
The Alaska Legislature is planning to reconvene next week to formally appropriate federal COVID-19 relief,  following a lawsuit that seeks to block the state government’s current plan for the relief.

Lawmakers would meet in Juneau, according to a spokesperson for the Senate majority. Legislative staff and the state Department of Health and Social Services are working on rules to discourage coronavirus infections.

A hand sanitizer dispenser stands outside Senate Chambers in the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau.
Photo: Skip Gray
Alaska Education News
Please Note - Some news outlets may require registration or a paid subscription for link access. Others may grant free access to a limited number of articles before requiring a paid subscription.
Online engagement rates rebound, some meal sites to close as Anchorage school year inches toward summer
Mayowa Aina, Alaska Public Media
After seeing an initial drop in online engagement rates in the first three weeks of distance learning, the Anchorage School District reports those numbers have rebounded. Officials shared the new numbers at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

On average about 87% of high school students logged into online platforms in the most recent three weeks. That number was closer to 39% just a few weeks ago.
Bailey Fuller (left), 15, and Willow Fuller (right), 12, of Palmer work on online assignments in their family’s living room on March 31, 2020.
Photo Courtesy of Andrea Fuller
ASD Deputy Superintendent Mark Stock said the higher numbers could be because the second data collection period was longer. But Stock also said a clarification in the district’s grade policy could have encouraged students to log back in.

‘There’s no consideration of cultural needs’: Rural teachers discuss alternative to Florida Virtual School
Joe Coleman, KNOM, Nome
Last month, as classes around the state moved online, Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration announced plans to contract with the Florida Virtual School to provide online classes to students for free. The program could cost the state more than $500,000.
Davis-Ramoth School in Selawik. Photo: NWABSD
Alaska’s contract with the online school followed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s recommendation to Alaska Commissioner of Education Michael Johnson. State officials defended the decision as a necessary, temporary measure that would provide students with education as classrooms closed, and lessons went online.

LKSD Conducts New Training To Identify Sexual Grooming Behavior
Greg Kim, KYUK
Months after former Bethel Elementary School Principal Chris Carmichael was arrested, and later charged with sexual abuse of a minor, the Lower Kuskokwim School District adopted a new training curriculum to prevent sexual abuse in schools, according to the district’s attorney. It’s aimed at identifying sexual grooming early, and stopping it before it escalates. The training, new to LKSD, is new to Alaska as well.
The Association of Alaska School Boards introduced the Professional Boundaries Policy to Alaska school districts last November, which includes new sexual abuse prevention training. AASB Executive Director Norm Wooten said that in all of the sexual assault cases he’s seen, there are always warning signs if you know what to look for. “Almost every single case, and I have read, literally, hundreds of them, people wondered about it,” Wooten said.

Following state’s lead, Sitka schools adopts climate change science curriculum
Robert Woolsey, KCAW, Sitka
The Sitka School District has officially adopted a science curriculum next year that includes the teaching of climate change science. The move comes as part of an overall update of the science curriculum across the state — the first in 14 years.

Science teachers Stacy Golden and Kelly Buxton presented the plan to the Sitka School Board at its regular meeting on May 6.

Golden explained that although the new standards were developed nationally, their creation was a collaboration at the state level.
Darby Osborne, with Youth for Sustainable Futures, speaks during a global climate action strike outside of Sitka High School in September, 2019. More education about climate and climate change science was among student demands.
Photo: Robert Woolsey
“The way those were developed is they were completed in 2013, and they were developed by states,” said Golden. “There were actually 26 states that participated in the process. The process constructed that framework for K-12 science education that I mentioned. It was a collaborative group including scientists, engineers, teachers, and curriculum designers. And the idea is that it was done by the states, for the state, so it was not a federal process. And it did include review and evaluation.”

Petersburg School Board to consider next year’s budget and the start of school
Angela Denning, KFSK, Petersburg
Petersburg’s School Board Tuesday will be meeting via video conference to go over next year’s budget. Finance Director, Karen Morrison, will present the board with the details of the budget, which includes about $8.8 million in revenues and $8.7 million in expenditures.
Photo: KFSK
The school board will discuss what senior graduation will look like this year. Meeting in large groups is not allowed in order to prevent the spread of the COVID virus so the district plans on having a vehicle parade. Superintendent Erica Kludt-Painter says this will involve a parade of the students in their cars and the district will be releasing more details later on.

Anchorage schools plan summer programs to counter growing learning gap
Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News
By fall, Anchorage students will have spent about six months away from in-person classes, and the Anchorage School District expects that “summer slide" — a natural slip backward in learning — will be worse than usual. It is rolling out expanded, optional summer learning programs that students can work on at home as it seeks to mitigate the growing learning gap.
In a district-wide email sent this month, Superintendent Deena Bishop outlined what the school district will be offering. Summer learning options will vary by grade: for high school, a four-week extension of the current quarter and online summer credit course options; online reading and math tutorials for middle school students; and both online options and paper packets of learning materials for elementary students.

Initially, the district rolled out its online content for middle and elementary school students as only supplementary. But as the school closures were extended, it became clear that providing “more long-term, rigorous, structured options” would be necessary, said Mark Stock, the district’s deputy superintendent.

Updated strategic plan up for School Board approval
KINY News, Juneau
The Juneau School Board takes up the Strategic Plan for 2020 to 2025 in final reading at Tuesday evening's meeting.

School Board Kevin Allen talked about the process for updating the plan while a guest on Action Line. He said the update took most of the board's time until the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Juneau School Board member
Kevin Allen. Photo: KINY
Employees honored by school system
KINY News, Juneau
The Juneau Board of Education honored employees with just under 250 years of combined service to the district Tuesday night. The Board honored 14 employees upon their retirement:
  • Samuel Villanueva, Head Custodian at Floyd Dryden Middle School, 17 years.
  • Ann Lind, Behavioral Assistant, five years.
  • Ignacio Toribio, a custodian at Thunder Mountain High School, 11 years.
  • Richard Dutson, a custodian at Thunder Mountain High School, 13 years.
  • Daniel Larson, Principal Thunder Mountain High School, 10 years.
  • Martin Messing, mail and freight handler in maintenance, 36 years.
  • Curtis Blackwell, Facilities and Maintenance Supervisor, 32 years.
  • Deborah Johnson Administrative Assistant at Juneau Douglas High School, 20 years.
  • Barbara Kelly, Administrative Assistant at Juneau Douglas High School, 20 years.
  • Shgen George, Tlingit Culture, Language and Literacy Teacher, 15 years.
  • Christine Swanson, Special Education Teacher at Riverbend Elementary School, 14 years.
  • Rhonda Larson, Assistant Principal at Thunder Mountain High School, 30 years.
  • Cinda Staneky, Elementary Teacher, 22 years.
  • Caron Smith, Principal at Juneau Community Charter School, three years.
Centennial Celebration: A bucket of Copper Nuggets
Dick Shellhorn, The Cordova Times
On the 100th anniversary of Cordova High School, here is a collection of tidbits from all those years, in very random order. Many were inspired by looking at old Copper Nugget yearbooks, and especially the Cordova Schools Centennial Yearbook, 1908-2008.

1951 Cordova High School
"Copper Nugget" Yearbook
Photo: Dick Shellhorn
for The Cordova Times
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