A screengrab of Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Superintedent John O’Brien announcing in a Thursday, July 30, 2020 video that masks will be required in school buildings this fall, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

A screengrab of Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Superintedent John O’Brien announcing in a Thursday, July 30, 2020 video that masks will be required in school buildings this fall, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Schools to require masks, face coverings

Masks are now mandatory for all staff and students in third grade and higher.

Masks or face coverings will be required in school buildings when they reopen, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Superintendent John O’Brien announced in a Thursday night video message.

“Cloth face coverings will need to be worn when 6 feet of physical distancing cannot be provided,” O’Brien said in his video announcement.

The school district finalized their reopening plans at the July 13 board of education meeting. That plan encouraged face coverings and masks to be worn by staff and students, but on Thursday, O’Brien announced masks are now mandatory for all staff and students in third grade and higher.

O’Brien said he made the decision based on feedback he received from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and from staff and parents regarding the district’s Smart Start Plan, the district’s reopening plan.

The mask requirement will be mandated in all schools across the district, O’Brien said in the video. When visitors and parents enter school buildings, they will also be required to wear a cloth face covering.

Later in his video announcement, O’Brien asked parents to give the district a preliminary idea on how their families will choose to learn this fall. The district is offering students three choices: to attend school in person, to do remote learning through the neighborhood school or to do remote learning through the district’s home-school program, Connections.

O’Brien said families should give an indication about what decision they might make when school starts in August.

“It would be very helpful for principals to have a preliminary idea so that they can plan class lists and which staff at their school are going to be teaching in person and which ones at their school are going to be teaching remotely,” O’Brien said in his video announcement.

As the beginning of school nears, the district will be sending out enrollment forms asking for finalized decisions from families.

O’Brien said he was encouraged by COVID-19 case count numbers for areas around the peninsula, and said he’s hopeful as dipnetting and tourism seasons end that case numbers will continue to drop.


• By Victoria Petersen, For the Peninsula Clarion


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