The Juneau School District building and Harborview Elementary School on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. Due to rising coronavirus the district announced late Thursday it would be delaying the start of Kindergarten class until after the New Year. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

The Juneau School District building and Harborview Elementary School on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. Due to rising coronavirus the district announced late Thursday it would be delaying the start of Kindergarten class until after the New Year. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

District delays kindergarten classes following emergency announcement

Message from Dunleavy prompted decision

The Juneau School District announced it is delaying the introduction of new cohorts of regular education students into schools for in-person instruction until after the New Year.

The district will continue to prepare for a transition to in-person learning which will begin no sooner than Jan. 11, the district said in a release. The tentative start date had been Nov. 30 for roughly 150 kindergarten students, said Kristin Bartlett, chief of staff for JSD in an email. School officials will watch local and district health conditions and will continue to be ready to invite additional students into school buildings when the time is right, according to the district.

[Governor issues health alert asking for COVID-19 diligence]

Teachers will continue delivering distance instruction for our students, district said. Current in-person opportunities for programs like Kinder Ready, Children’s House, internet support, Relationships and Leadership, Learning for Youth and some special education services that have been successful with effective mitigation strategies will continue, according to the statement. Operational status of these programs could change at any point, the district said, and officials will be watching the local health situation to make these determinations.

Many high school classes meet periodically for classes such as metals, auto, housebuild, small engines and basic construction, Bartlett said in her email. Other high school and middle school classes like music, jazz band, chemistry, statistics and English have also been held in person, she said.

Each week individual and small groups of students are invited into schools for extra support, to attend study sessions or to take exams, Bartlett said.

The district’s announcement followed a message from Gov. Mike Dunleavy sent to Alaskans’ phones using the state’s emergency messaging system asking for diligence around health protocols.

School officials are asking staff, the community and district families to listen to Dunleavy’s plea for adhering to strong personal mitigation practices and to do everything possible to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnoEmpire.

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