Teachers greeted students as they reentered school on Jan. 11 with distancing strategies and mitigation protocols in place at Floyd Dryden Middle School. After several months of partial week attendance to accommodate student cohorts, the school district is expanding in-person learning opportunities. Next week, middle and high school students will return to in-person school four days each week. Many elementary school students returned to four days this week. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)

Teachers greeted students as they reentered school on Jan. 11 with distancing strategies and mitigation protocols in place at Floyd Dryden Middle School. After several months of partial week attendance to accommodate student cohorts, the school district is expanding in-person learning opportunities. Next week, middle and high school students will return to in-person school four days each week. Many elementary school students returned to four days this week. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)

School district announces expansion of in-person learning

Middle and high school students to attend four days a week

Beginning April 12, Juneau’s middle and high school students will be returning to school four days a week, school district officials announced in an email to parents late last week.

The change expands the in-person high school schedule by one day and the middle school schedule by two days. Wednesday will remain a distance-learning day at all levels.

The announcement was made shortly after school officials said that elementary school students would attend four full days until the school year ends next month — marking a change from the previously announced plan to host students on site for four half-days each week.

District expands schedule for in-person learning for elementary schools

“We are happy that for the first time in the school year, we are able to meet the needs of those students and families who want to attend full days in person,” Kristin Bartlett, chief of staff at the district, said in an email to the Empire.

Due to COVID-19, in-person school has not been in session since March 2020. In January, some students started returning to in-person learning on a limited schedule.

As in-person school has expanded, district officials report positive feedback from families.

“The feedback so far has been positive — largely from families whose children are very excited about going back to school full days and are ready to take the next step in increasing in-person learning,” Bartlett said.

School district announces student-focused vaccine clinics

New CDC guidance prompted the change

In mid-March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated guidance for virus mitigation in classrooms for students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

According to the new recommendations, schools can safely operate with three feet of distance between students rather than six, as long as students practice universal masking in classroom settings.

In the email to parents last week, Superintendent Bridget Weiss said the updated guidance paved the way for schools to open more fully.

Distance learning option continues

Students who prefer to continue distance learning may do so through the end of the year.

“There are some families who are not yet ready to go back in person for extended periods of time or into classrooms with expanded numbers of students. Distance learning will still be available through the end of the school year. Families can decide what works best for their specific circumstances,” Bartlett said. “We won’t have a clear picture of how many students will continue to take advantage of distance learning until all of the school’s transition to full days next week,” she said.

Contact reporter Dana Zigmund@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.

Tim Berry, a Michigan resident visiting Juneau, fishes on a dock Monday near the Douglas Island Pink and Chum Inc.’s Macaulay Salmon Hatchery. A ban catching king salmon near the hatchery and some other Juneau waters is in effect until Aug. 31. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Local king salmon ban not expected to have big impact on summer fishing, but long-term concerns remain

Ban due to 2020 landslide that caused hatchery pipeline break, disrupting multiyear spawning cycle

Juneau School District maintenance and custodial crew work on transitioning Thunder Mountain High School to Thunder Mountain Middle School on Monday. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
Juneau schools empty out as classrooms and memories transition under consolidation plan

Transitions “ahead of schedule” for school district; use for vacant buildings by CBJ still in question

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, June 23, 2024

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

Buck Laukitis’ boat, the Oracle, sits in Homer in May before unloading its catch of halibut. (Nathaniel Herz/Northern Journal)
As salmon season kicks off, some Alaska fishermen fear for their futures

Some signs of recovery for $6 billion industry a year into crisis, but major threats persist.

A cartoon sketch is seen on a cubicle in the offices of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. during an open house on Friday, Feb. 16. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
After email leak, some Alaska legislators say they’re skeptical of Permanent Fund’s direction

Members of the Alaska Legislature questioned the direction of the Alaska Permanent… Continue reading

City and state leaders gather Monday at the gangway to Aurora Harbor for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the third of four stages of reconstruction of the 60-year-old harbor. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Six years and one pandemic later, next stage of Aurora Harbor expansion is complete

New installations allow for longer vessels, provide utilities for final planned phase of project.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Saturday, June 22, 2024

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

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Friday, June 21, 2024

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

Most Read