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COVID-19 (FY20 School Year)

Bering Strait School District

P.O. Box 225  • Unalakleet, Alaska • 99684 •  (907) 624-3611  • Fax 624-3099

Dr. Bobby Bolen, Superintendent

907-624-4261  • bbolen@bssd.org  


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9 APRIL 2020

BSSD Superintendent COVID-19 Update 

Dear Bering Strait School District Family,

This letter is to update you on the changing situation regarding COVID-19 and
plans the District is putting in place to help slow the spread of this virus in our
community and maintain student learning as this situation develops.

UPDATE: April 9, 2020 @ 6:00 PM

Just moments ago, Superintendents received word from Governor Dunleavy that
he has extended all school closures through the end of the FY20 School Year.
This mandate is addressed Heath Mandate 13.

Today’s announcement still requires districts to continue to provide educational
services to students through distance delivery.

All school employees shall remain on "work status".

All schools will remain closed to all students, activities, groups, or individuals.
Please ensure all doors are locked and that only appropriate school staff is in the
building.

It is recommended that all school employees continue to wash hands on a regular
basis and continue practicing social distancing. In addition, it is highly
recommended that all individuals cover their nose and mouth with cloth face
coverings when going out in public. Social distancing means no non-essential
movement outside your house or with groups. You should not be in groups, have
guests, or be in close proximity of others.

If school employees feel sick or have symptoms related to COVID-19, please do
not come to work and contact your local clinic by phone.

Schools will continue to work on ensuring students that want learning material are
receiving it, ensuring that students are being fed on a daily basis, ensuring
students receive fair grades, and ensuring that we find ways to recognize our
graduating seniors in some manner.

Thank you to all our staff and communities in advance for being flexible and
working along with us for our children.

Respectfully,

Bobby Bolen, Ed.D
Superintendent



20 MARCH 2020

Dear Bering Strait School District Family,

This letter is to update you on the changing situation regarding COVID-19 and
plans the District is putting in place to help slow the spread of this virus in our
community and maintain student learning as this situation develops.

UPDATE: March 20, 2020 @ 6:00 PM

Just moments ago, Superintendents received word from Commissioner Johnson of
the Department of Education that Governor Dunleavy has extended all school
closures through May 1st.

Today’s announcement still requires districts provide educational services to
students through distance delivery.

All school employees should still return to "work status" beginning Monday, March
23.

Employees that have remained in their village or who have not traveled outside the district should report to work at the school on Monday. This includes staff that
perhaps went to the Regional 1A BB tournament in Unalakleet, the Ski Meet in
White Mountain, or other district events, unless you traveled through Nome on
your flights. If you were on the BSSD plane or charters that had no layover in
Nome, then you do not need to self-quarantine.

All schools are closed to all students, activities, groups, or individuals that are in
self-quarantine. Please ensure all doors are locked and that only appropriate
school staff is in the building.

School employees that have traveled outside of the district must self-quarantine 14
days from the time you returned to your village or from when you do return. This
includes any families that have students that have returned to their household from college, MEHS, or other programs outside the district.

School employees that are in self-quarantine should be practicing social
distancing. Social distancing means no non-essential movement outside your
house or with groups. You can still do what you need to do to live. You should not
be in groups, have guests, or be in close proximity of others.

Schools will receive guidance next week on figuring out the best way to educate
kids in the upcoming weeks ahead. We will also have more information on school
meals, which are planned to start on Tuesday, March 24.

There will be many questions that arise over the next few weeks around grades,
make up work, graduation, etc. Please be patient as we work to address those
questions; they are our questions as well, and we want to make the best decisions
possible for our children.

Thank you to all our staff and communities in advance for being flexible and
working along with us for our children.

Respectfully,
Bobby Bolen, Ed.D
Superintendent

Printable PDF


March 19, 2020



Dear Bering Strait School District Family,

This letter is to update you on the changing situation regarding COVID-19 and plans the District is putting in place to help slow the spread of this virus in our community and maintain student learning as this situation develops.

UPDATED INFO: March 19, 2020 @ 5:00 PM

Today, March 19, 2020, I met with the BSSD Regional Board Executive Committee and recommended the new following guidelines, effective immediately.

I have extended our school closure through April 5, 2020. Schools will tentatively reopen for students Monday, April 6, 2020.

Any school employee, certified or classified, that has traveled outside of their
community, since March 1, 2020, MUST self-quarantine in their housing for 14 days upon return. This includes any employee who shares a housing unit with anyone that has traveled outside the community, or has family visiting that has traveled from outside the community. Employees shall plan to work from home and prepare to provide educational services per guidance that will be provided later.

Only staff that have remained in their community, and had no visitors, in the last 14 days will be permitted to be in their schools or classrooms.

CHANGE: Please note that Day 1 of your quarantine will now begin upon your arrival 
back in your housing unit. 

Any staff that are in high risk categories, and do not feel they safely can get to their
school or classroom, should notify their Principal and request additional consideration for working from home.

Currently, all staff that are self-quarantined or that receive approval of their additional
consideration will be paid, without deduction from their personal sick or personal leave.

Staff that need to remain home due to childcare challenges or other personal reasons,
will be required to use the appropriate leave as normal and required by the district.

If you are showing symptoms or traveled outside the state in this time period, it is
recommended that you take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever. If you are sick or show signs of a fever (over 100.3), cough, or
shortness of breath, please call your health care provider. Do not report to clinics or
hospitals without calling first.

We will continue to monitor the situation in the State and our communities and provide
updated information on school operations as necessary.

In closing, please remember that the most important action we can all continue to take is to practice active personal hygiene. This includes washing our hands, covering our
coughs, and taking other measures to limit person-to-person spread.

Respectfully,
Bobby Bolen, Ed.D.
Superintendent

Printable PDF


March 18, 2020



Dear Bering Strait School District Family,


This letter is to update you on the changing situation regarding COVID-19 and plans the District is putting in place to help slow the spread of this virus in our community and maintain student learning as this situation develops.

 
Currently, all schools are closed through March 30, 2020. Only certified and classified staff are permitted in the buildings at this time. There should be no students or families in our school buildings.

All school employees, certified and classified, should report to work on March 23, 2020, following Spring Break. No students should report to schools. During this time of school closure, staff will, under the guidance of the District Administrative Team, begin working on what the educational setting will look like moving forward.

 
UPDATED INFO: March 18, 2020 @ 4:00 PM

On March 17, 2020, Governor Dunleavy’s Office issued a new COVID-19 Health Mandate. As a result if this mandate I am issuing new restrictions on teachers and staff who have traveled during Spring Break.

Effective immediately, all teachers and staff that traveled outside the State of Alaska in, since March 13, 2020 are required to self-quarantine for 14 days. Anyone falling under this category should notify their Principal that they are self-quarantining in their housing during this time. These individuals should practice “social distancing” and remain in their housing and not be out in the community or at school. Staff in shared housing should manage their “social distancing” as well during this time. 
Please note that Day 1 of your quarantine can begin upon your arrival back in Alaska.

All in-state and out of village travel should continue to follow the guidelines of the CDC, washing hands, social distancing, and keeping away from large groups or gatherings.

All teachers and staff that did not travel outside of Alaska should report to work as scheduled Monday, March 23. If any staff feels they show symptoms or feel sick should remain at home and work to the best of their ability. Any staff that are in high risk categories, and do not feel they safely can get to their school or classroom, should notify their Principal and request additional consideration for working from home.

Currently, all staff that are self-quarantined or that receive approval of their additional consideration will be paid without deduction from their personal sick or personal leave.

Staff that need to remain home due to childcare challenges or other personal reasons, will be required to use the appropriate leave as normal and required by the district.

If you are showing symptoms or traveled outside the state in this time period, it is recommended that you take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever. If you are sick or show signs of a fever (over 100.3), cough, or shortness of breath, please call your healthcare provider. Do not report to clinics or hospitals without calling first.

We will continue to monitor the situation in the State and our communities and provide updated information on school operations as necessary.

In closing, please remember that the most important action we can all continue to take is to practice active personal hygiene. This includes washing our hands, covering our coughs, and taking other measures to limit person-to-person spread.

Respectfully,

Bobby Bolen, Ed.D.

Superintendent

Printable PDF




March 13, 2020

Dear Bering Strait School District Family, 

This letter is to update you on the changing situation regarding COVID-19 and plans the District is putting in place to help slow the spread of this virus in our community and maintain student learning as this situation develops. 

I am directing that all our schools close to students and all events following the end of school today, March 13th, until at least March 30th

All teachers, certified and classified, should report to work on March 23, 2020, following Spring Break. No students should report to schools. During this time of school closure, staff will, under the guidance of the District Administrative Team, begin working on what the educational setting will look like moving forward. 

I’ll take a little bit of time to explain the rationale for this decision. The decision comes after a meeting this morning with the Commissioner of Education and the majority of superintendents in the State. Yesterday we saw Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Kenai all extend their spring breaks by an additional week. Additional districts are rolling out similar decisions today. Yesterday, I held another meeting of our BSSD leadership team. We know that locally and state-wide, many families of our students and staff are traveling during spring break and may inadvertently be exposed to COVID-19. By deciding to close schools for this period, we are hoping to limit the level of potential spread of the virus and also create a time of distancing for our communities. This planning impacts us all in different ways. This ranges from organizing appropriate precautions, to keeping ourselves connected while not increasing our exposure risks, and how to keep ourselves personally healthy. We are not facing these challenges alone. These challenges are the same being faced by other families in our state and country. 

I know that this decision may be questioned by some as unnecessary and over reactive. I respect that our thoughts may differ on this and many points and hope we can all understand the challenging position we are all in to help slow this virus and allow our health system to support our friends and family that will need intensive support in the times to come. 

We will continue to monitor the situation in the State and our communities and provide updated information on school operations as necessary. 


In closing, please remember that the most important action we can all continue to take is to practice active personal hygiene. This includes washing our hands, covering our coughs, and taking other measures to limit person-to-person spread. 


Respectfully,

Bobby Bolen, Ed.D.

Superintendent


March 12, 2020

Effective 5:00 pm today, March 13, 2020, all Bering Strait School District student activities, events, student and staff trips are cancelled. All cancellations will continue through the end of March and can be extended further at any time, as conditions warrant.

Activities cancelled include Open Gyms, all Activities and Practices, all clubs and organizations, NACTEC Sessions, Festivals held in schools, and hosting of Iditarod events, visitors in your schools, and any other activity that may have been missed.

No future student travel should be scheduled at this time for any dates in the future. Any current reservations made for April or later can continue to be held. Updates will be provided as soon as possible.

The State Basketball March Madness has been postponed. We will update any future competition and events as needed.

We understand the inconvenience this causes on many villages and community members, however, in light of the potential for massive spread of the coronavirus, it is necessary at this time. We must be responsible and do our part to protect the students, staff, and community members – keeping all safe and hopefully returning to normal activities as soon as possible.

Currently Spring Break will continue as scheduled. Extensions of Spring Break will be made at a later date.

The District Administrative Team is meeting regularly to prepare for future announcements and planning ahead as conditions change.

Please continue to follow the guidelines on our website for washing hands, use of hand sanitizer, and social distancing.

If you have a fever, or serious cough, please stay inside and call your local clinic or Norton Sound Health for further directions.

Thank you all for your cooperation during this challenging time in keeping everyone safe. Please ensure that your schools are secure during break. I encourage your maintenance staff to take this time to do a thorough cleaning of your school. Please have your maintenance staff contact Sony or the maintenance department if further guidance is needed.

Respectfully,

Bobby Bolen, Ed.D.
Superintendent



March 10, 2020

 

Dear Bering Strait School District Families: 

The recent outbreak of the COVID-19 Coronavirus has prompted many concerns among our communities. The District is keeping in close contact with our public health and safety partners to ensure that we do our best to keep our children safe and to prepare for any potential scenarios in the future. 

The Director of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has repeatedly stated that the risk is low, and we currently have no identified cases in Alaska. There are many things that you as a parent can do to help keep your child safe and healthy. Attached to this letter are handouts with information regarding preventative behavior, as well as information about the coronavirus itself. 

The principals and staff at our schools are working to ensure that the schools are clean and disinfected, that children wash their hands frequently, and that any staff member or student who is ill stays home. 

At this time there are no plans to cancel student travel unless event organizers or state agencies have canceled the event - we are monitoring the situation closely. However, it is the right of any parent to decline for their child to participate in sports or field trip travel. 

We encourage you to be calm, follow recommendations of your public health and safety professionals, and watch for future updates. We appreciate your continued support of our schools and children. 

Respectfully, 

Dr. Robert Bolen Signature

Robert Bolen, Ed.D

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RESOURCES

Norton Sound Health Cooperation: Situation Report Update

What you need to know about COVID-19

Talking with Children About Coronavirus Disease 2019

Teladoc: Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website

Questions & Answers on Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak

COVID-19 Recommendations for High Risk Groups from DHSS

Keeping Your House Disinfected

Please encourage Medicaid participants to sign up for SDS E-Alerts by entering their email address here so they can receive up-to-date information directly.


ALASKA DEED RESOURCES

Infectious Disease - Memo to Superintendents


ALASKA DEPARTMENT of HEALTH RESOURCES

Situation Overview

AK DHSS Text Alert System

Infectious Disease Management Guidelines for Alaska Schools


U.S. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION

Children and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Guidance for School Settings

Interim Guidance for Administrators of US K-12 Schools and Childcare Programs

Considerations for School Closures


WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak


FOOD SERVICE RESOURCES

School Nutrition Association: Coronavirus Option Letter

USDA: Using USDA Food During a Human Pandemic Outbreak

National Restaurant Association: What Can You Do?

Cleaning vs. Sanitizing

Hand Washing
 101

Stop Germs! Wash Your Hands