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.

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