Fairbanks School Board votes for in-person learning for high school if in Yellow Zone

(Courtesy FNSBSD)
(Courtesy FNSBSD)(Fairbanks North Star Borough School District)
Published: Oct. 7, 2020 at 2:57 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - At last night’s meeting the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District School Board carried a motion to allow in-person learning for high school and Ben Eielson Junior-Senior High School students starting October 19, 2020. The school board deliberated for several hours on the three options that were on the table to get students back on campus, even if for only a few days a week and if the school district is in the Yellow Operational Zone, or less than 10 positive COVID cases a day for a 14-day average.

The first option proposed would require in-person/blended students to attend school two days per week, and learn independently the other three days. The second option would require all in-person/blended students to attend in-person one day per week and learn remotely the other four days. For the third option, most in-person/blended students would continue learning fully online with in-person accommodations made for students with the greatest needs, as per the district phase-in plan. In-person instruction for some elective courses, would be determined by each school principal.

The majority of the school board members did not approve of the options. Colonel Williamson, Eielson AFB representative, voiced his concerns regarding too much contact. “Right now we are trying to keep folks at the installation at groups of 10, and that is down from a size of 25, so I’d love to get towards option two, or towards option one, but the number of contacts for option two being approximately 40 per day would make contact tracing hard," said Williamson. Board member, Jennifer Luke said, “I’m really struggling with these options. I don’t believe that COVID has made very many good options available.” When it came time to vote, the Board chose option one to be amended to the original motion to start in-person learning. The original motion with the amendment carried. However, if the school district is not in the Yellow Operational Zone by October 19, 2020, there will not be in-person learning, and the board will have to revisit the decision at a later date.

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