Gov. Mike Dunleavy at a press conference in Anchorage on Tuesday, April 7, 2020. (Courtesy photo | Office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy at a press conference in Anchorage on Tuesday, April 7, 2020. (Courtesy photo | Office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy)

Dunleavy says schools will remain closed through end of the school year

Districts can choose how they continue instruction

Both public and private schools will be closed to students through the end of the school year, said Gov. Mike Dunleavy Thursday at a press conference in Anchorage.

Schools had been ordered closed until May 1 under a state mandate, but because of uncertainty surrounding the virus and being near the end of the school year, Dunleavy said the decision was made to bring some certainty to people’s lives.

A rule that says schools can only carry over 10% of their funding to the next year is also being suspended, Dunleavy said, allowing schools to save the remainder of their funds for next year.

“School districts may be able to find more savings. This will be an additional tool schools can use (in the future)” Dunleavy said.

Schools can still provide distance learning online, Dunleavy said, but how they chose to do so was up to individual districts.

“Student learning will continue, per each school district’s individual plan, to provide distance-delivered educational services to students,” according to a release from the governor’s office.

The mandates for social distancing and limiting intrastate travel were set to expire April 11, but their termination dates have been extended to April 21, when they will be reevaluated according to Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum. Additionally, elective dental procedures were also postponed indefinitely, Crum said.

Earlier in the day, President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency in Alaska regarding COVID-19. An emergency declaration will allow the state to receive additional assistance from the federal government.

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Thursday, April 9, 2020, in Washington. Thursday, Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Alaska and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the coronavirus. (AP Photo | Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Thursday, April 9, 2020, in Washington. Thursday, Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Alaska and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the coronavirus. (AP Photo | Andrew Harnik)

“This is going to help us to get more tools and get more resources,” Dunleavy said, thanking Trump and Alaska’s congressional delegation for the declaration.

Exactly what kind of additional assistance will be available is not immediately clear.

“Federal funding is available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance,” according to a White House announcement.

There were nine additional COVID-19 cases identified since Wednesday, said Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink. None of the new cases were in Juneau, Zink said.

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