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Breaking: Fairbanks School Board votes to begin schooling remotely for the 20-21 school year

Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 5:00 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -

UPDATE:

Board Member Matthew Sampson cast the dissenting vote. He said that taxpayers are entitled to a state-funded education, and doesn’t believe that remote schooling provides a comparable education to a brick-and mortar school. “If you don’t want to send your kid to school, don’t send your kid to school. There’s plenty of options out there,” Sampson said.

Board President Wendy Dominique explained her reason for voting in favor of remote schooling. “At the present time, the cases are just too much right there. And I would not want to see a child come to school, contract that virus, and end up dead. That would be the ultimate, and that would be horrible if we had a part in that,” she said.

Superintendent Karen Gaborik recommended the decision to school remotely. She said assignments this upcoming term will be graded, as opposed to last spring. “What parents will experience with regard to grading will be much, regardless of what option they choose, will be much closer to what they’re used to. So we want graded assignments, we want kids attending, again even remotely, attending these, you know, Zoom sessions,” she said.

According to Gaborik, because not all students will have access to internet, the district will provide paper packet options for assignments. Gaborik said electronic devices for students are being procured. “Our goal is to be a one-to-one district, so we want to assign every single student a device. They won’t all be here. They’re, they’re coming in now, so, you know, over the next few weeks they’ll be coming in, so we’ll have to prioritize a little bit.”

According to Gaborik, the school district will continue to hold meetings leading up to the start of the school year, discussing items such as Nutrition Services and learning options.

Community FaceBook Live and Zoom sessions will be held July 29th at noon and August 4th at noon.

The Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board voted to start schools remotely for the 2020-2021 school year, a decision which will be reevaluated at every subsequent regular meeting of the board.

In a Special Meeting on July 27th, the board heard from Superintendent Karen Gaborik about the district’s Smart Start plan for the academic year, and had a chance to ask questions about the plan and discuss various aspects of the adjustment to schooling during a pandemic.

During the meeting, the board also took phone testimony from community members and read messages that the district had received from the community.

Toward the end of the meeting, the board voted 6 to 1 in favor of the remote start, with Matthew Sampson as the dissenting vote.

There will be more updates available as we receive more information.

Copyright 2020 KTVF. All rights reserved.

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