Case counts keep central peninsula schools’ risk level high

The central peninsula has to lose 392 cases from its 14-day case count to drop back into medium risk

Risk levels

As the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District continues to craft long-term plans, growing COVID-19 case numbers on the peninsula are further entrenching central peninsula schools in the high-risk level.

The district is in the process of figuring out how to safely bring students back for on-site learning, but in the meantime 34 district schools are operating 100% remotely through at least Nov. 13. The district received feedback on remote learning during their Nov. 2 school board meeting, which saw some critical of the virtual learning environment and others in support of the COVID-19 safety remote learning provides.

In addition to the feedback received at the meeting, the district also circulated a survey as a way to solicit feedback from the school community. New reopening plans will be sent to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and to the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development for review, said KPBSD Superintendent John O’Brien, and to the school board for approval and adoption.

In determining whether to reopen a school to on-site learning, the district and their Medical Advisory Team analyze 14-day positive case counts, analyze the seven-day positivity trend, consult with medical providers and public health and review their school decision matrix.

Susan B. English School in Seldovia resumed on-site learning Monday. The school first began remote learning on Oct. 27 after the district confirmed a positive COVID-19 case in the community. Cooper Landing School, Hope School, Nanwalek School, Port Graham School and Tebughna School are also currently operating at low-risk levels.

DHSS created risk levels as part of a plan to reopen long-term care facilities to visitors, but DHSS says risk levels also can be used to inform decisions by other entities, including schools, institutions of higher learning and businesses.

Central Peninsula — High Risk: The central peninsula, or Kenai, Nikiski, Soldotna, Sterling and “other North,” had 58 resident cases reported by the state Tuesday for a total of 443 cases in the last 14 days.

The central peninsula is high risk when there are 52 or more cases in the last 14 days, medium risk when there are 51 to 26 cases in the last 14 days, and low risk when there are 25 or fewer cases in the last 14 days.

100% remote learning will continue for central peninsula schools through at least Nov. 13. As of Monday, the central peninsula will need to lose 392 cases from its 14-day case count for schools to drop back into medium risk.

Central peninsula schools include Aurora Borealis Charter School, K-Beach Elementary, Kaleidoscope School of Arts and Sciences, Kenai Alternative School, Kenai Central High School, Kenai Middle School, Marathon School, Mountain View Elementary, Nikiski Middle-High School, Nikiski North Star Elementary, Redoubt Elementary, River City Academy, Skyview Middle School, Soldotna Elementary School, Soldotna High School, Soldotna Montessori Charter School, Sterling Elementary and Tustumena Elementary.

Southern Peninsula — High Risk: The southern peninsula, or Homer, Fritz Creek, Anchor Point and “other South,” had three resident cases reported by the state Tuesday for a total of 46 cases in the last 14 days.

The southern peninsula is at high risk when there are 20 or more cases in the last 14 days, medium risk when there are 19 to 10 cases in the last 14 days, and low risk when there are nine cases or fewer in the last 14 days.

100% remote learning will continue for southern peninsula schools through at least Nov. 13. As of Tuesday, the southern peninsula will need to lose 27 cases from its 14-day case count for schools to drop back into medium risk.

Southern peninsula schools include Chapman School, Fireweed Academy, Homer Flex School, Homer High School, Kachemak Selo School, McNeil Canyon Elementary, Nikolaevsk School, Ninilchik School, Paul Banks Elementary, Razdolna School, Voznesenka School and West Homer Elementary.

Eastern Peninsula — High Risk: The eastern peninsula, or Seward, had one resident case reported by the state Tuesday for a total of 18 cases in the last 14 days.

The eastern peninsula is at high risk when there are eight or more cases in the last 14 days, medium risk when there are four to seven cases in the last 14 days, and low risk when there are three or fewer cases in the last 14 days.

100% remote learning for eastern peninsula schools will continue through at least Nov. 13. As of Monday, the eastern peninsula will need to lose 11 cases from its 14-day case count for schools to drop back into medium risk.

Eastern peninsula schools include Moose Pass School, Seward Elementary, Seward High School and Seward Middle School.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com

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