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Fairbanks School Board votes to allow in-person learning starting in January

(Courtesy FNSBSD)
(Courtesy FNSBSD)(Fairbanks North Star Borough School District)
Published: Dec. 14, 2020 at 11:33 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District School Board voted to have students return to school in person beginning on January 19, 2021 through February 1, 2021.

The meeting began with the board going over comments from community members ranging from parents and teachers to health workers and students. The majority of these community testimonials urged the board to not follow through with its proposed plan for a variety of reasons, such as concerns over the safety of students, the increased likelihood of viral spread outside of schools, the inconsistency the reopening of school will cause in the lives of students, and when school potentially closes again due to another outbreak.

The original motion on the agenda stated the following:

“Move to begin school on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 for families and students who want to return in-person, maintaining the options for remote learning, eLearning, and BEST Homeschool, and acknowledging schools will meet Smart Start guidelines to the best of their abilities.”

The Board approved the original motion. Jennifer Luke then moved for a replacement motion to add new language to the original motion to add clarity.

The New Motion for reconsideration said this:

New Motion: Move to begin accelerated return to school plan beginning on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 though Monday, February 1, 2021 for families and students who want to return in-person, maintaining the options for remote learning, eLearning, and BEST Homeschool, and acknowledging schools will meet Smart Start and CDC guidelines to the best of their abilities.

Intent: Maintain current start and end times. High school continues to hold 3 classes on the quarter system. Start with elementary, middle school, then high school by the end of the two-week period. Maintain 2-tiered bus system. High school will attempt to adhere to guidelines. Masks required. Students will be with their primary teachers. Social distancing as much as possible. Class sizer = pod size.”

After much discussion, the new motion carried.

According to a statement provided by board member Jennifer Luke after the meeting, elementary students who want to return to in-person learning can return January 19, middle school will start phasing back the next week, and high school will phase back starting February 1, 2021.

The two remaining agenda items were postponed to this meeting from the previous one last week. The board voted to table the proposed elementary school expanded phase in plan and the middle school and high school expanded phase in plan indefinitely.

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