As earthquake cleanup continues in Anchorage schools, only one - in Eagle River - is deemed unsafe

On Monday, Anchorage School District families got a clearer picture of the post-earthquake status of schools, and some new options for child care during the weeklong district-wide closure.

Here’s the latest:

Damage and reopening of individual schools

With a massive, citywide cleanup underway, the school district released the first school-by-school information on damage sustained in Friday’s 7.0 earthquake.

Using a color-coded list that designates schools green, yellow or red, the district put 17 schools on green status, meaning they are safe and staff can re-enter. By the end of Monday, the majority of schools were on yellow status, meaning they were damaged and repairs or cleanup was ongoing.

Only one school, Eagle River Elementary School, was designated red, meaning it was unsafe to enter. School officials have said the school, built in 1961, may have sustained structural damage.

The district also released videos and photos of damage in schools, including hard-hit Eagle River Elementary, Hanshew Middle School and Dimond High School.


The video shows bricks that fell off Eagle River Elementary, standing water at Hanshew, along with fallen ceilings. It shows big pieces of a huge wall-mounted sculpture heaped on the floor at Dimond High School, along with tables of open laptops wet or covered in debris.

Decisions such as when teachers and students can get back into classrooms to do things like grab wallets and phones abandoned during earthquake evacuation procedures and evacuate classroom pets will be made by individual principals, district spokeswoman Catherine Esary said Monday.

Child care options

Meanwhile, the families of 48,000 district students started an unexpected weeklong school break.

For some, that meant bringing children to work. For others it meant relying on family, friends or a new crop of paid day camps that local nonprofits and businesses are offering for the week.

A handful of businesses and organizations stepped up to offer day camps during the week.

Camp Fire Alaska, a major provider of before- and after-school child care to Anchorage children, announced Monday that they would be operating emergency child care for children already enrolled in the program from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday at Huffman Elementary School and Nunaka Valley Elementary School.

Free lunch

The district announced sites for children to receive free lunch between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. at 10 locations through Friday.

Those sites are: Williwaw Elementary, Nunaka Valley Elementary, Fairview Elementary, Mountain View Elementary, North Star Elementary, Central Middle School, Muldoon Elementary, Alaska Native Cultural Charter School and Creekside Park Elementary.

Students can opt to sit in buses that will be at the sites if they want, otherwise they will need to take the food to go, the district said. The district said it may adjust food service times Friday to accommodate deliveries required for school to resume Monday.

Day care

The city was still learning the status of Anchorage’s 223 licensed child care centers and in-home day cares, said Natasha Pineda, the director of the Anchorage Department of Health and Human Services.

Licensing workers were trying to make contact with every center in the city to see if they are open or not, or have damage. It varies, she said.

“A lot of them are open, but some are not."

While Anchorage School District schools have all been inspected by engineers for safety, each child care center or home will make the decision about when to reopen on their own, Pineda said.

Inspectors will be rechecking every facility’s safety in upcoming inspections, she said.


For the most part, people seem to be rolling with the post-earthquake situation as best they can, she said.

“This is not normal circumstances,” she said.

Michelle Theriault Boots

Michelle Theriault Boots is a longtime reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. She focuses on in-depth stories about the intersection of public policy and Alaskans' lives. Before joining the ADN in 2012, she worked at daily newspapers up and down the West Coast and earned a master's degree from the University of Oregon.