A staff member at Chugiak High School tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, according to the Anchorage School District. A member of the infected staff member’s household also works at King Tech High School in Anchorage.
The district asked people in both buildings Monday to leave, and is asking employees who were in either of the buildings during the last two weeks to self isolate for 14 days. Anyone who had direct contact with the infected employee is asked to quarantine for 14 days.
District spokesman Alan Brown said the infected employee contracted COVID-19 while traveling in the Lower 48 and returned to work when school was not in session.
“We are very certain there was no contact with students and because the nature of this job is not one that interacts with students directly, we don’t feel there is any risk to our students,” Brown said.
Students have not attended in-person classes since March 6 because the district extended spring break amid concerns of spreading COVID-19. Gov. Mike Dunleavy has since cancelled all in-person classes throughout the state until May 1.
It wasn’t immediately unclear if the staff member at King Tech High School also traveled to the Lower 48 and if he or she has been tested for COVID-19.
Anchorage School District staff have been asked to work from home, and Brown said the district is finalizing plans to begin distance learning on March 31. The district has assessed connectivity and students’ ability to learn using different digital platforms throughout the last few weeks.
Brown said he’s encouraged by the teachers’ innovation and excitement to connect with their students.
“I’m really optimistic moving forward,” he said. “This is going to be different, it’s going to be challenging. This is completely uncharted territory for us and we’re figuring things out in many ways as we go along, but we’re not going to give up.”
Brown said the Chugiak High School employee was among the 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19 announced in Alaska Sunday. The statewide total is now 32. Of the confirmed cases, seven were in Fairbanks; 13 in Anchorage; six in Ketchikan; two in Mat-Su, and one each in Juneau, Sterling, Soldotna and Seward.