COVID Mitigation

Schools are Safe When The Community is Safe

To safely teach in person, mitigations backed by the CDC, the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services, and scientific consensus must be followed. Research has shown that schools are not necessarily the outbreak centers that we feared when measures are followed, but they certainly can be if mitigation guidelines are not followed with fidelity.

KPBSD has worked hard to establish safer working conditions, but for mitigations to be successful, we need member and community support. Research has consistently shown that infection rates in schools reflect those of the broader community, so we are asking for your help.

The safety of students and staff must take priority in this decision-making.

- National Organization of School Nurses
  (Read More)

Below are informational resources concerning the state of mitigation measures in schools in the district. Please remember, we are dozens of vary diverse, varied schools; some schools are in towns on the road system, and others are in isolated communities. If you have questions about your local school's mitigations and resources, contact your building administrator or your KPEA building representative.

Citations for everything quoted on this page and all sub-pages are available below.

Current Risk Level Status

Visit the district's risk level map to determine your school's status, or you can view KPBSD's COVID19 Dashboard.

To have school in-person safely during a pandemic, we must...

  • Wear masks at all time.
  • Maintain six feet of personal space.
  • Limit our out-of-circle contacts.
  • Make sure those that want the vaccine can get it when their time comes.
  • Know how many cases are in the communities connected to our schools, and how many cases are in schools.

Key Points

What we know about COVID, and what is happening as new strains come about and as vaccines are distributed, is constantly changing. Be flexible and adapt with us.

  • Teachers fully recognize the struggles that building closures have created for families across the peninsula.
  • For in-person education to be safe and effective for teachers and support staff, districts must ensure a culture of health and safety.
    • CDC Quarantine protocol must be followed, regardless of the hardships it may cause.
  • COVID-19 policies are intended to mitigate, not eliminate, risk.
  • High-risk staff can and should request remote work arrangements from their building administrator. If that is unsuccessful, HR should be consulted, and/or your association representative.
  • The school district has made efforts to make our buildings safer through the installation of HVAC filtration systems in buildings with central air, and through acquisition of new cleaning tools and chemicals.
  • A new strain of the virus will reach Alaska and the peninsula eventually, and we may have to change tack when it comes. It is vastly more transmissible.
  • For schools to be safe, according to the research, the communities they are in must be safe. Infection rates in schools mirror the community.

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

“Schools should determine, in collaboration with state and local health officials to the extent possible, whether and how to implement each of these considerations while adjusting to meet the unique needs and circumstances of the local community. Implementation should be guided by what is feasible, practical, acceptable, and tailored to the needs of each community. It is also critically important to develop strategies that can be revised and adapted depending on the level of viral transmission in the school and throughout the community and done with close communication with state and/or local public health authorities and recognizing the differences between school districts, including urban, suburban, and rural districts. These considerations are meant to supplement—not replace—any Federal, state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which schools must comply (e.g., Individuals with Disabilities Education Act  https://sites.ed.gov/idea/)."

From the American Academy of Pediatrics

More from the AAP >>

  • It is critical to use science and data to guide decisions about the pandemic and school COVID-19 plans.
  • School transmission mirrors but does not drive community transmission.
  • Community-wide approaches to mitigation are needed for schools to open and remain open.
  • Adequate and timely COVID-19 testing resources must be accessible.
  • Federal, state, and local funding should be provided for all schools so they can provide all the safety measures required for students and staff.
  • With the above principles in mind, the AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for school COVID-19 plans should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.
  • Policy makers and school administrators should acknowledge that COVID-19 policies are intended to mitigate, not eliminate, risk.

From the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine

More detail from
the NASEM >>

We should:

  • Provide surgical masks for all teachers and staff.
  • Provide hand washing/sanitizer stations.
  • Limit large gatherings of students.
  • Reorganize classrooms to enable physical distancing.
  • Prioritize cleaning, ventilation, and air filtration. (This alone will not sufficiently lower COVID-19 transmission.)
  • Create a culture of health and safety.

Learn Even More

Resources & Citations

Thank you again to KPEA member Jessica Moore for her work in collecting and interpreting these resources. This is by no means an exhaustive list of resources out there - we encourage you to do your own responsible research as well.

Official Guidance & Resources

What You Can Do

Protecting People with Disabilities: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-disabilities.html

When to Quarantine: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine.html (Updated Dec 10, 2020)

Options to Reduce Quarantine: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/scientific-brief-options-to-reduce-quarantine.html

School Preparation

Operating Schools: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/schools.html (updated Dec 30, includes new information about COVID-19 in children)

CDC School Readiness & Planning Tool: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/community/School-Admin-K12-readiness-and-planning-tool.pdf

CDC - Testing in K-12 Schools: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/k-12-testing.html

CDC - Reopening Cleaning & Disinfecting Guidance: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html

CDC - Disinfecting Your Facility: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html

Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools: https://rems.ed.gov/docs/REMS_K-12_Guide_508.pdf

American Academy of Pediatrics - Guidance for Safe Schools: https://services.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/clinical-guidance/covid-19-planning-considerations-return-to-in-person-education-in-schools/

  • Note: Some of the above guidance may change as a result of the more transmissible variants that are coming about, as much of it is predicated on the limited recorded evidence of children driving the spread of the virus.

CDC - FAQs for Administrators, Teachers, and Parents: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/schools-faq.html

Relevant Articles

The most recent articles are listed first.

December 2020: Chicago Sun Times: Follow the science? It's not that easy deciding when - or if - to reopen schools: https://chicago.suntimes.com/education/2020/12/23/22193951/cps-public-schools-reopen-new-york-covid-coronavirus-science-johns-hopkins-university-safe-ctu

August 2020: Johns Hopkins - Important & Elusive Science Behind Safely Opening Schools: https://www.jhsph.edu/covid-19/articles/the-important-and-elusive-science-behind-safely-reopening-schools.html

August 2020: Science News - Five big questions about when and how to open schools amid COVID-19: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/covid-19-coronavirus-kids-schools-opening-when-how-risks

July 2020: National Association of School Nurses calls for funding to return to school safely: https://www.nasn.org/blogs/nasn-profile/2020/07/22/nasn-calls-for-208-billion-in-funding-for-return-t

June 2020: JAMA Health Forum - Practical guidance for opening schools from other nations: https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767982

Studies

Contact Tracing Study: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/10/20-1315_article

Schools are Not Islands: We must mitigate community transmission: https://covid.idmod.org/data/Schools_are_not_islands_we_must_mitigate_community_transmission_to_reopen_schools.pdf

To What Extent Does In-Person Schooling Contribute to the Spread of COVID-19? Evidence from Michigan and Washington: https://epicedpolicy.org/does-in-person-schooling-contribute-to-the-spread-of-covid-19/