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Fort Wainwright School Board rep offers military perspective on students returning to school

Published: Dec. 16, 2020 at 5:14 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District School Board held a meeting and voted to allow students the option to return to school in person beginning on January 19, 2021. In this meeting school board post representative for Fort Wainwright, Colonel Christopher Ruga provided his military perspective on the topic.

According to Colonel Ruga, both he and fellow board member Colonel Stuart Williamson of Eielson Air Force Base have both been consistent in their support of COVID mitigation plans that fall within CDC guidelines, and opposition to those that do not, “And that does not change in this case. That is the way both installations have been approaching the mitigation of COVID, and in particular protecting our communities and protecting our mission.”

According to Ruga both installations, Fort Wainwright and Eielson, have documented cases of child-to-child COVID transmission, and child-to-parent transmission.

“At both installations we’ve had instances where that child-to-parent transmission has impacted our mission because we’ve had to quarantine or isolate or some combination thereof, service members - be it airmen, or soldiers here at Fort Wainwright - that prevented them from doing their jobs. So from our perspective, we want to avoid any increases in those scenarios,” said Ruga.

Colonel Ruga has been contacted by faculty and staff of Arctic Light Elementary school, who are also spouses of service members, with concerns about the effects reopening schools will have even on families who choose not to send their children back. To that point, Ruga said “Even if they don’t send their children back, the mission of the installations will be impacted because they will potentially be transmission back to spouses, spouses to units, [and] units impacting mission - and that is a significant concern for some of our spouses as well.”

“Holistically anything that is inconsistent with what we are doing on the installations to protect those missions and to protect our family members, we would just like to see the board not pursue, which really is in CDC guidelines,” said Ruga.

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