COVID-19 (FY21 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  •  

12 August 2020

BSSD Superintendent COVID-19 Update 

Good afternoon all staff:

It is great to see many teachers returning to Alaska from their summer break and beginning to arrive in Anchorage and their villages.

As many of you know, there are 2 main types of COVID-19 testing currently being conducted in Alaska. There is the Rapid Test and then a slower 3-5 day swab test. BSSD has been made aware that our Norton Sound Region is currently running low on the Rapid Test.

If you are traveling through Nome, you can still be tested at the airport, however, it will not be the Rapid Test. Dr. Peterson is working with Bering Air to hopefully ensure BSSD staff will still be able to board and travel to their village. When you arrive in your village, you must follow your village's quarantine mandates. If your village allows for a 7-day retest, you may get retested, however it will not be the Rapid Test, as long as supplies remain low. You should plan to remain on quarantine for an additional 3-5 days for the slower test. This may mean that many of you will end up serving a full 14-day quarantine, regardless of your village's requirements.

If you are in Anchorage and have time, it is recommended that you find and take a Rapid Test the day before (or the morning of) your flight to Nome.

Any staff traveling to Unalakleet or through Unalakleet, must have a Negative COVID-19 test before flying. That test should be taken in Anchorage. There are an abundance of Rapid Testing Sites available in Anchorage.

Through discussions with Dr. Peterson at NSHC, BSSD has agreed that we will not ask NSHC in Nome or the local clinics to administer the Rapid Test to get off quarantine.

I understand this may cause additional time away from the school or your jobs, however, we have had a contingency plan in place all along should something like this occur. Our calendar and school reopening plan was designed to address delays such as this.

Again, please do not ask for a Rapid Test in your village to get off quarantine. We want NSHC to have these Rapid Tests available should they be needed for emergencies.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter. We look forward to having everyone back in our schools safely as soon as possible.

If you have any questions, please contact your Site Administrator.

Bobby Bolen, Ed.D.

7 August 2020

Good afternoon:

I want to welcome our new staff arriving in Anchorage this weekend, our Administrators arriving back in Anchorage, and all of our returning teachers from your travels this summer. I hope that you have all gotten some rest and are ready to go for the new year.

Just a couple quick reminders for returning teachers that may be arriving back to your sites and for new teachers that will be arriving at sites next week.

All of our schools are currently closed to non-school essential personnel.

Beginning Monday, August 10, 2020, all employees entering a school building or the District Office must wear a mask. Masks should be worn in all common areas. Masks can be removed if you are working alone in your classroom, however, they must be worn when outside the classroom or working in groups. District Office staff may remove masks when working in the same office, as long as there's at least 6 feet between you and other employees.

No travelers returning to site should enter their school or the district office while on quarantine awaiting COVID-19 test results. All employees should email their Principal with their negative results before entering any district own buildings, excepot housing. District Office employees should email their negative results to their supervisor. Employees that have not traveled can email a statement indicating such.

Once again, all school entrances, except for the main entrance should be closed and not used.

Beginning Monday, August 17, 2020, we will start temperature checks for anyone entering district owned buildings, except housing. More details will come next week regarding this.

Thank you again for all your work and we look forward to getting everyone back in our buildings and working as soon as possible.

Bobby Bolen, Ed.D.

31 July 2020

Dear BSSD Family:

I hope that each of you have had a great summer and have been able to have quality family time while riding out these unprecedented times living with COVID-19. The staff at BSSD have been hard at work all summer ensuring that your children can return to school this fall, while keeping students, staff, and community members safe.

As we look forward to reopening schools, we will start gradually and continuously monitor community spread and mitigation as we move through each step.

Important Dates for All Students and Families:

August 26, 2020 – September 11, 2020  Back to School Readiness Challenge

School breakfast and lunch will be available for pickup. Students will be given the “Back to School Readiness Challenge” activity when they pick up their meal. There will be activities for students to complete over the next two and a half weeks. Students will not report to classes at the school. Enrolled students will be marked as present during the distance learning activity. If you have questions about your child’s enrollment, please contact the school.

September 14, 2020 – October 2, 2020  Modified School Opening

Students will be grouped by schedule into Group A & B. Group A will attend school in the building on Mondays and Tuesdays. Group B will attend school on Wednesdays and Thursdays. No students will attend school in the building on Fridays. Students will receive instruction in all core subjects, as well as have opportunities for cultural and art activities in a modified in-person learning environment. Assignments will be sent home with students to complete on the days they are not in school. Student dismissal will be early (exact time TBD).

October 5, 2020 and beyond

District administrators will monitor all COVID-19 activity in the region and make future school schedule determinations on an on-going basis.

Information Updates

All COVID-19 information will be updated on the BSSD website as necessary. Please check the COVID-19 banner at the top of the web page to access all information and updates. Notices will also be posted on the District Facebook page and each school’s Facebook page. In addition, the District will be utilizing PowerSchool Messenger this year. Stay tuned for more information and to ensure your students contact information is up to date to receive all updates in a timely manner.

School Use

School facilities will remain closed to all non-school personnel until further notice. All school gyms will remain closed to assist in the prevention of community mitigation. Use will be allowed by AST and NSHC officials for community safety. There will be no adult meals available for purchase to non-school employees. Only employees that are working will be allowed to purchase adult meals. There will be no Elder Lunches or coffee times in schools until further notice.


Cross-country running practice will begin at sites soon. Practice will be outside and will not include use of the school. Participants will be required to wear masks during team meetings or when not able to social distance. Participants may remove masks during actual physical activity.

The District plans to also offer cheerleading and volleyball in modified formats during the Fall. Further updates will come as the start of the seasons get closer.

Under current conditions, there will be no wrestling offered this year.

The status of Spring sports is TBD.

Safety Precautions

All schools have been undergoing continuous cleaning throughout the summer to ensure the safety of all staff that have remained in the community.

Beginning August 17, 2020, all individuals who enter the school will be monitored for temperature and wellness. There will only be one entrance at each school. Each school will be equipped with hand sanitizer dispensers at the entrances of the school, as well as distributed throughout the classrooms.

Face masks will be required to be worn by students in grades 3-12. In addition, all visitors and staff will be required to wear face masks when in groups. All parents will be required to wear masks when dropping off or picking up students. At the teacher’s discretion, students may not wear face masks during independent work, when social distancing is available. Face masks will be mandatory for any group work or activities.

Face shields will be available for students and teachers who may not be able to wear a mask for health reasons or for teachers of younger students. Plexiglass is being designed for student desks and all common areas, such as the MPR or Library.


There will be no non-essential school business travel between communities. There will be no student travel until further notice. Thank you to everyone who has worked on our reopening plan. Our goal is to ensure the safety of all our precious students, as well as their family members and community members. We will continue to provide further updates as August 26 nears. We wish you all health as you enjoy the remainder of the summer, and we look forward to having students back in schools on September 14.

Dr. Robert Bolen

5 July 2020

I hope that you have had a great summer so far and have been able to relax and hopefully enjoy some family time.

Although the 2020 school year ended in such a non-traditional manner, the District Office staff has been hard at work all summer preparing for a successful 2020-2021 school year. Although we anticipate that there will be much uncertainty throughout the year, we are creating plans that will involve flexibility at every turn so that we can easily adapt to whatever challenges might get thrown our way.

There will be more to come in the next few weeks regarding the district plan for reopening schools to students. Schools will also be able to do some site-specific things based upon the parameters set forth in the master plan.

However, for now, the most important question, probably for each of you, is where do I need to be, when do I get there, and what are my next steps as a returning teacher.

Returning Teachers Currently in Alaska

All returning teachers currently in Alaska or have been in Alaska for a minimum of 14 days prior to August 16, should report to their assigned village and be prepared to report to "working status" in their building on August 17, 2020. Please check with your Site Administrator for specific starting times for that Monday.

Returning Teachers Currently Outside of Alaska

All returning teachers currently in the Lower 48 or abroad, should report to their assigned village and be prepared to return to "working status" in their village as close to August 17 as possible.

Each employee, and family members traveling with the employee, must meet one of the following options to be permitted to travel:

1) Test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to arriving in Alaska and show proof of a negative test.

2) Receive a COVID-19 test upon arrival in Alaska (at the airport) and quarantine for 5 days, or until a second COVID-19 test can be conducted. With proof of two negative COVID-19 tests, employees may continue on their travels to their assigned village.

3) With no COVID-19 test, employees must remain quarantined in their arriving city for 14 days before proceeding to their assigned village.

Travel Documents

All returning certified teachers returning from the Lower 48 must complete the Mandatory Declaration Form for Interstate Travelers

All returning certified teachers will receive in their inbox, by the end of the week, a Return Travel Letter for your documentation during travel as a Alaska Critical Infrastructure Employee. Please keep this letter with you during your travels. Be on the lookout for an email from Tera Cunningham, HR Specialist.

All returning certified teachers and their family members must receive prior written approval from their assigned village prior to entry onto the village. Any costs associated with not receiving prior approval will be at the expense of the employee. Related delays may require employees to use personal time or unpaid leave.

Quarantine Options

Beginning August 1, 2020, any employee that is required to quarantine on their return travel, due to the lack of a negative COVID-19 test (Options 2 or 3 above), may make arrangements at the following hotels in Anchorage.

Captain Cook

Group Reservation #1262364

Website Code: BSSD2020

Dimond Hotel

Reservation URL:

Group General Booking Link - User will be required to enter Attendee Code (BSSD1) coordinator can login using Group Code (BSSD1):

Reservation URL:

Room Charge will be billed directly to BSSD if you stay in one of these hotels.

Tammy Dodd is working on securing a block of rooms at a pet-friendly hotel as well. Tammy will send out that information as soon as we have it.

Employees who do not stay at one of the listed approved hotels will be required to pay their own charges and submit a detailed folio for reimbursement within 30 days of arrival in their assigned village. Maximum reimbursement of $125/per night.

If you have any questions about accommodations, please contact Tammy Dodd.

All Returning Certified Staff

As a certified teaching employee with the Bering Strait School District, all employees and their families will be required to follow all State of Alaska travel mandates and restrictions.

All employees and family members must be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival in their assigned village - prior to reporting to work.

Each employee must receive prior written approval from their assigned village prior to arriving in that village. Please contact your individual village for details on approving travel.

All employees and family members must remain in quarantine until all requirements and/or a negative COVID-19 test result has been received.

Any employee that is running a fever, feeling sick, or shows any of the potential symptoms of COVID-19, will not be permitted to travel.

All employees and family members should wear masks at all times when traveling in airports, on ferries, or in planes when not able to social distance or are in large groups.

We look forward to everyone's safe return to Alaska and to a great school year ahead. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Tammy Dodd (907-624-4273), Kris Busk (907-624-4309), Mark Vink (907-624-4256), or Dr. Bobby Bolen (907-984-2288).


Bobby Bolen, Ed.D



Norton Sound Health Cooperation: Village COVID-19 Travel Resolutions

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's Smart Start 2020

Infectious Disease - Memo to Superintendents


Situation Overview

AK DHSS Text Alert System

Infectious Disease Management Guidelines for Alaska Schools

Alaska School Activities Association Resources

Return-to-Activities Protocol (Update 6/10/2020)


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


Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak


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