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Fairbanks School District Superintendent addresses school closures

 The Superintendent broadcast the informative session on Facebook Live (Alex Bengel/KTVF)
The Superintendent broadcast the informative session on Facebook Live (Alex Bengel/KTVF) (KTVF)
Published: Mar. 17, 2020 at 4:29 PM AKDT
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On Tuesday March 17, Fairbanks North Star Borough School District Superintendent Karen Gaborik held an informational session on Facebook Live, where she addressed the concerns of students, parents and district staff.

“As of immediately, effective today, right now actually, the district is moving into a core functioning mode,” Gaborik said. “By this afternoon, our staff, to the degree possible, will be working from home,” she went on to say.

According to Gaborik, there will be key staff at schools and at the district administrative center during the closure period, with other core functioning staff will work from home as well. “Our facilities department has been working on cleaning spaces, making sure that high-traffic areas are clean and sanitized”, she added.

Gaborik said the plan to distribute school lunches to students who qualify for free or reduced-cost lunch is “in flux.”

She said, “We’re continuing to try to determine if there is a way to get meals to students. Our original plan was to kick off that distribution on Wednesday. Our hope had been to establish drop-off sites at schools and parking lots, even perhaps use our student transportation system to help out with that. We’re regrouping a little bit today, especially after the announcement of two positive cases of COVID-19 in town.”

According to Gaborik, because the two weeks of school closure have been designated “non-student-contact days” by Governor Dunleavy’s announcement, no homework or activities will be required of students, though some optional activities may be offered.

In terms of the possibility of the closures being extended, Gaborik said, “I’m watching the rest of the country very closely. Some districts have extended through April, some I think have started to call it to the end of the school year. I think we need to be prepared for that and thinking about that.”

Gaborik went on to say that the district may seek a “waiver” for class time lost as well as adding school days at the end of the year. “One thing we have to think about is our revenue, and our budget is really set up for a pretty finite period of time. And so while we could extend [to] some degree and be creative about how that looks, at some point we’re only budgeted for so much time in the school year. So I would think a waiver of some of these days would be what we’d be looking for.”

“Our website (k12northstar.org) will be the source of information in all our communication platforms when it comes to everything related to school closure and to our COVID-19 response,” Gaborik said.

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