Thunder Mountain High School on April 18, 2021. When school resumes Monday, students will attend each weekday, and COVID mitigations will be in place. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Hello, school: Juneau’s students make full-time return to classroom

What a difference a year makes.

On Monday, students in the City and Borough of Juneau will grab backpacks and head off to school for the first day of a school year that will include five full days of in-person learning each week. This schedule stands in stark contrast to the first day of the 2020-2021 school year, which took place via distance learning due to COVID-19 concerns.

“We are excited,” said Bridget Weiss, superintendent, during Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.

School board OKs mask plan for fall

Kristin Bartlett, chief of staff for the district, echoed the sentiment in a call with the Empire early Wednesday morning.

“It feels very good. It’s exciting that we will not be starting another school year without students,” she said.

Last school year, students started a partial-return to in-person learning in January and gradually geared up to four in-person days each week. Wednesday’s were set aside for independent study. Staff continued to offer distance learning opportunities for students who were not comfortable returning to in-person school.

Back to cool

Bartlett said that elementary school students can find teacher assignments outside the door of their school buildings on Friday. Middle school students should expect to hear from the school this week and high school students completed orientation and picked up schedules last week. Bus schedules will be available at juneauschools.org by Friday.

When considering the year, Bartlett said that students and parents can look forward to a more typical school experience with activities and open houses on tap for the fall. Activity busses will be available to help middle school students participate more fully in after-school offerings. Parent volunteers will be able to return to the classroom.

School supply lists and open house dates are available at juneauschools.org.

The deal with meals

Unlike most years, free breakfast and lunch will be available to all students at every school. Bartlett said parents can find menus online and that no paperwork is required for students to enjoy the meals.

“Everyone who comes to school and wants a meal gets one. Over the first few weeks, we will balance out supply and demand,” she said. “No pre-ordering is needed.”

However, district officials still encourage all qualifying families to apply for the USDA Free and Reduced Meal Program.

“It does help if families who do qualify go through the application process as that information is how lots of other funding is provided to the school district,” Bartlett said.

Applications can be picked up and submitted to any school office. An online application can be submitted at schoolcafe.com.

A mural is born

COVID Mitigation

When students return to school, they will be wearing masks when inside. Based on a Tuesday night vote by the school board, students will have the option to remove their masks when outside.

“Last year the strategies proved effective at preventing COVID inside the school,” Bartlett said. “We know those strategies are effective.”

In the event of a positive COVID-19 case in a classroom, public health officials will guide school district staff on the best way to proceed. Teachers, staff, and vaccinated students identified as a close contact will not be required to stay home and quarantine.

“I think we will have fewer quarantines this year,” Bartlett said.

Weekly surveillance testing will be required for student activities and is voluntary for other students and staff. Vaccinated students are exempt from surveillance testing.

“The more people who are vaccinated the better the environment,” she said.

Know & Go

— The first day of school for students in grades 1-12 is Monday, August 16. Kindergarten starts on Thursday, August 19, and Preschools begin Tuesday, August 24.

— New student registration is happening now at every school. Registration packets can be found online. If you have a child who will be five years old by September 1 and have not yet registered for Kindergarten, visit your neighborhood school to sign up.

— Immunizations and vaccinations are available at Juneau Public Health Center, 907-465-3353. The COVID-19 vaccine is not required for students to attend school in person, but is encouraged for students ages 12 and up.

— Find out where to get a vaccine at juneau.org/vaccine.

Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at dana.zigmund@juneauempire.com or 907-308-4891.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of June 22

Here’s what to expect this week.

Participants in a pro-choice abortion rally gather outside the Governor’s Residence on Saturday to demand a pro-life flag flying at the entrance be taken down. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Pro-choice abortion protesters march to Governor’s Residence to demand removal of pro-life flag

Rally on second anniversary of U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision also focuses on fall election.

Eddie Petrie shovels gravel into a mine cart as fast as possible during the men’s hand mucking competition as part of Juneau Gold Rush Days on Saturday at Savikko Park. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Mucking, trucking, chucking and yukking it up at Juneau Gold Rush Days

Logging competitions, live music, other events continue Sunday at Savikko Park.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, June 20, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Pins supporting the repeal of ranked choice voting are seen on April 20 at the Republican state convention in Anchorage. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
State judge upholds most fines against group seeking repeal of Alaska ranked choice voting

An Anchorage Superior Court judge has ruled that opponents of Alaska’s ranked… Continue reading

Joshua Midgett and Kelsey Bryce Riker appear on stage as the emcees for MixCast 2023 at the Crystal Saloon. (Photo courtesy Juneau Ghost Light Theatre)
And now for someone completely different: Familiar faces show new personas at annual MixCast cabaret

Fundraiser for Juneau Ghost Light Theatre on Saturday taking place amidst week of local Pride events

Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire
A section of Angoon along the coast is seen on June 14. Angoon was destroyed by the U.S. Navy in 1882; here is where they first pulled up to shore.
Long-awaited U.S. Navy apology for 1882 bombardment will bring healing to Angoon

“How many times has our government apologized to any American Native group?”

Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon announced this week she plans to seek a third three-year term. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Mayor Beth Weldon seeking third term amidst personal and political challenges

Low mill rate, more housing cited by lifelong Juneau resident as achievements during past term.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, June 19, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read