Gov. Mike Dunleavy at a press conference in Anchorage on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. (Courtesy photo | Office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy at a press conference in Anchorage on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. (Courtesy photo | Office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy)

State extends business closures indefinitely, announces virtual school

Bar, restraurants to remain closed until further notice

The state has indefinitely extended its closure mandates for businesses and certain public facilities, Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum said at a press conference Wednesday.

Bars, restaurants and other businesses which require people to gather or be closer than six feet as well as libraries, museums and archives will remain closed. The two previous state mandates ordering these closures were meant to expire April 1, but would continue until further notice Crum said.

At a press conference in Anchorage, Gov. Mike Dunleavy said his administration is working through bills from the Legislature and from the federal government.

“We’re making sense now of the bills that were passed by Congress and the Legislature,” Dunleavy said. The federal legislation that gives states massive infusions of cash includes a lot of flexibility, he said, but the administration was looking at the best way to allocate that money.

“We don’t want to throw money at the wall and see what sticks,” Dunleavy said.

Joining the press conference via video call, Department of Education and Early Development Commissioner Michael Johnson announced the creation of a special website, aklearns.org, which provides free learning materials for teachers, students and families to continue learning from home.

“Educators are working very diligently to supportive students in many creative ways throughout the state,” Johnson said. The website, “has lots of information for families transitioning to distance learning.”

Johnson also announced the rollout of the Alaska Statewide Virtual School, a project done in cooperation with the Florida Virtual School, a distance learning program created in that state in 1997.

There will be a webinar for parents and families Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Johnson said, which can be joined telephonically from the aklearns website.

There were 10 new cases of COVID-19 in Alaska, said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink, including one from Juneau. Currently, only 2.8% of Alaska’s coronavirus tests were coming back positive, Zink said, which she said was “reassuring.”

Most of Thursday’s press conference is expected to handled by Zink, the governor said. She will present a slide show with extensive information on COVID-19 data.

• 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.

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