Schools are closed, but work goes on

Schools are closed, but work goes on

Students are still learning and on track to graduate

While Juneau’s schools remain physically closed through the end of the school year, instruction has continued and officials say students are on track to advance.

Seniors set to graduate this year will still do so, although there will be no graduation ceremony, according to Bridget Weiss, superintendent for the Juneau School District.

“This is an interesting crisis because it’s so widespread,” Weiss said. “Because this is a national crisis, everyone is working to accommodate (students).”

Teachers have continued to work with their students electronically, Weiss said, and students will be promoted to the next grade level in the fall. Teachers have been told to focus on essential skills students will need in their next grade level, according to Weiss.

Collegeboard, the company which administers the SAT and advanced placement tests across the country canceled the SAT for the Spring and modified its AP exams to cover only material supposed to have been taught by early March, according to the company’s website.

Similarly, the SAT and ACT requirements for the Alaska Performance Scholarship have been waived for the class of 2020.

Students set to graduate from the University of Alaska will still be able to do so, according to Roberta Graham, spokesperson for the university. Issues facing students related to the COVID-19 pandemic were, “all being worked out at the moment,” Graham said.

When Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced schools would remain closed through the end of the school year Thursday, he said the provision saying schools can only carry over 10% of their funding to the next year was being waived.

“School districts may be able to find more savings. This will be an additional tool schools can use,” Dunleavy said at the press conference.

But according to Weiss, there might not be that much money left over, despite the schools being physically closed.

“Most of our costs are personnel, and there are other parts that are more expensive than they would be normally,” she said.

In order to accommodate families with remote access, technology costs for the district have risen. Even in a typical year, most schools’ expenses match their budgeted funds, Weiss said.

“I don’t see the areas where we would be able to save enough to where it would make a difference,” Weiss said.

There is money coming from the federal government through the CARES Act, but the state has not yet told schools how much and when that money might arrive, Weiss said.

“Other than the comments publicly made,” Weiss said, “we haven’t received any official notice.”

Teachers in Juneau’s schools had to get creative with ways to engage their students remotely Weiss said, and the district is trying to find ways to better accommodate students and their families.

The Juneau School District is conducting a survey, Weiss said, to better understand what families are facing and how the school district can help. The survey can be found at the Juneau School District Website.

“This is a work in progress,” Weiss said. “We’re really working hard to be responsive, to be creative. We really want to keep our families informed, the survey is an opportunity to check in now that we’ve been doing this a couple of weeks.”

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

Information on the coronavirus is available from websites for the City and Borough of Juneau, the State of Alaska at coronavirus.alaska.gov and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People with flu-like symptoms are encouraged to contact their health care provider.

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 May 18

Here’s what to expect this week.

The entrance road to Bartlett Regional Hospital. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Bartlett Regional Hospital looking at eliminating or trimming six ‘non-core’ programs to stabilize finances

Rainforest Recovery Center, autism therapy, crisis stabilization, hospice among programs targeted.

A king salmon. (Ryan Hagerty/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Biden administration advances bid to list Gulf of Alaska king salmon as endangered or threatened

Experts say request could restrict activity affecting river habitats such as road, home construction

Mayor Beth Weldon (left), Deputy Mayor Michelle Bonnet Hale and Juneau Assembly member Paul Kelly discussion proposals for next year’s mill rate during an Assembly Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday night. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Assembly members support lower 10.04 mill rate ahead of final vote on next year’s CBJ budget

Initial proposal called for raising current rate of 10.16 mills to 10.32 mills.

Dave Scanlan, general manager of Eaglecrest Ski Area, speaks to the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Finance Committee on April 13, 2023. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Dave Scanlan forced out as Eaglecrest’s general manager, says decision ‘came as a complete shock to me’

Resort’s leader for past 7 years says board seeking a “more office-process, paper-oriented” manager.

The entrance to the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.’s Anchorage office is seen on Aug. 11, 2023. The state-owned AGDC is pushing for a massive project that would ship natural gas south from the North Slope, liquefy it and send it on tankers from Cook Inlet to Asian markets. The AGDC proposal is among many that have been raised since the 1970s to try commercialize the North Slope’s stranded natural gas. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Eight young Alaskans sue to block proposed trans-Alaska natural gas pipeline

Plaintiffs cite climate change that harms their access to fish, wildlife and natural resources.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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

A Shell station in Anchorage. (Nathaniel Herz/Northern Journal)
Shell abandons North Slope oil leases, raising questions about the industry’s future in Alaska

Experts say some of the state’s hard-to-tap oil prospects are becoming less attractive.

Most Read