Smoke from the Swan Lake Fire impairs visibility on the Sterling Highway, Alaska, on Aug. 20, 2019. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Smoke from the Swan Lake Fire impairs visibility on the Sterling Highway, Alaska, on Aug. 20, 2019. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

1st day of school delayed for Cooper Landing

School is scheduled to open with a 2-hour delay Wednesday

Tuesday was the first day of school for hundreds of students across the Kenai Peninsula. For children living the Cooper Landing area, school was closed Tuesday due to Swan Lake Fire activity. Heavy smoke and fire activity continue to persist near the small central peninsula community.

The Cooper Landing School is scheduled to open Wednesday with a two-hour delay. A final determination about a full-day closure will be made no later than 9 a.m. Wednesday.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s communications liaison, Pegge Erkeneff, said it’s quite possible school will be canceled in Cooper Landing. The two-hour delay gives the district time to assess fire activity in the area.

“We’re working closely with the Office of Emergency Management and incident management teams to make sure all of our students and staff are safe,” Erkeneff said.

Tuesday morning in Sterling traffic backed up from overnight road closures due to the Swan Lake Fire made it difficult for students at River City Academy, Skyview Middle School, Soldotna High School and Sterling Elementary School. Apple Bus Company, the company contracted to transport students to and from school, was unable to go past Feuding Lane in Sterling, a Tuesday morning news update from the district said. Apple Bus stopped at Feuding Lane to pick up students who were able to meet the bus.

The students in Sterling who were unable to get to school were not counted as absent.

Sunday and Monday, two small fires ignited in the southern peninsula. Erkeneff said the district sent parents and staff at Kachemak-Selo School, Razdolna School and Voznesenka School with information about smoke impacts and the nearby fires. Families in the areas of these schools were not impacted by a Level 1 evacuation alert.

Erkeneff said the district is closely monitoring air quality in schools across the peninsula, to make sure students at recess and at sporting events are outdoors in safe conditions.

This story has been updated with the latest information.

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