Anchorage officials unveil plan to feed students while schools are closed

The Anchorage School District will feed students while schools are closed due to concerns over the new coronavirus.

The district announced details of its plans for teachers and students on Friday, one day after Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop announced schools will close for at least a week while the district prepares for the possibility of teaching students remotely. On Friday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced that all public schools statewide will be closed through March 30.

In a letter sent to parents, Bishop said district nutrition staff will begin providing free food Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 20. She said prepackaged meals will be available to any child 18 years of age or younger.

“Our primary goal for next week is to take assessment of our student body and to strengthen our capacity to provide supplemental learning resources that meet the needs of each and every student," she wrote. “By the end of next week, we will have a better understanding of circumstances to make subsequent decisions if the present state of the pandemic expands in our city.”

Staff will distribute food at 18 schools in Anchorage. Those schools include: Abbott Loop Elementary, Airport Heights Elementary, Central Middle School of Science, Chester Valley Elementary, Creekside Park Elementary, Fairview Elementary, Fire Lake Elementary, Government Hill Elementary, Klatt Elementary, Lake Otis Elementary, Mountain View Elementary, Muldoon Elementary, North Star Elementary, Northwood Elementary, Ptarmigan Elementary, Russian Jack Elementary, Taku Elementary and Williwaw Elementary.

The food will be offered between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Students and teachers are currently on spring break, which began Monday. The break has been extended through next week with the expectation students will need to be taught remotely after that — though Bishop has yet to formally make that announcement.


District staff will return to work next week in order to prepare for teaching classes remotely.

“Although students will not return to school next week, ASD employees will report to work in order to plan and develop distance learning plans for students until they are able to return to their schools,” Bishop wrote in a message to district employees.

Teachers will spend next Tuesday and Wednesday reaching out to families to determine needs for distance learning. On Thursday and Friday, staff will “plan and build capacity for distance learning needs.”

“We plan to supplement learning beginning March 23 if the closure is extended,” Bishop wrote.

Bishop said all staff except short-term substitutes are expected to report to their normal work site unless directed otherwise by supervisors. Teachers and staff who are sick should stay home and follow usual leave reporting procedures.

She also said anyone who has traveled to countries identified as Level 3 risk by the CDC to stay home for 14 days in accordance with current federal guidelines. The superintendent noted that the plans are subject to change.

All school facilities will be closed to the public next week, with the possibility of longer closures.

“It is possible this suspension could extend further based on the changing circumstances associated with COVID-19," Bishop wrote.

Bishop said school nurses will be calling families who have medication at schools to arrange medication pick-up for home use.

For more on the district’s coronavirus response, visit

Matt Tunseth

Matt Tunseth is a former reporter for the Anchorage Daily News and former editor of the Alaska Star.