Anchorage School District teachers and staff told to stay home as coronavirus plans are reworked

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Teachers and staff were told to work from home until further notice Wednesday as the Anchorage School District tried to reevaluate its plans for how to deal with the coronavirus emergency even as the situation continued to evolve on a day-to-day and even hourly basis.

Teachers and staff were sent home after reporting for work Wednesday morning.

Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop said in a letter to parents released Wednesday afternoon that the decision was made after a health mandate announced Tuesday by Gov. Mike Dunleavy, which advised people to avoid groups and keep their distance from others.

“Based on the new guidance, the District wants to ensure it is doing everything possible to protect staff and prevent the spread of this virus,” Bishop wrote. “The District recognizes it plays a big role in flattening the curve of COVID-19, and we believe allowing as many staff as possible to work from home is the most responsible action.”

Last week, Dunleavy ordered that all public schools in the state be closed to students through March 30.

Bishop said the district will continue to evaluate the situation as it unfolds.

Students who need to speak with a school nurse or access health services — such as medicines that may still be at a school — are asked to call 907-742-4136 or email

The district will continue to offer free meals to youths age 18 and under at 21 schools throughout the Municipality of Anchorage.

The district is also offering “supplemental learning activities,” which she said are online educational opportunities available through the ASD website.

Online access, child care data released

Bishop also released data compiled through more than 41,000 phone calls she said were made by teachers to district parents. Those calls showed 91% of parents reported having adequate child care during the school closure and 87% said they have high-speed internet at home.

However, 4% said they have no internet at home and 5% said they have no devices at home whatsoever. Other results of the study showed 70% of homes have laptops, 69% have smartphones with data, 65% can print papers, 57% have a tablet and 41% have a desktop computer.

Bishop said the district will use the information to try to formulate long-term plans for teaching students remotely.

“As you know, the situation continues to change at a rapid pace, so thank you for your patience,” she wrote. “ASD will continue to provide the most current information through its website. I am confident we will persevere through this time, and perseverance is a great asset for our students to learn in today’s world.”

Matt Tunseth

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