Seventeen schools in the central Kenai Peninsula switched to remote learning Wednesday as coronavirus infection numbers continue to rise in the area.
The schools will remain closed for at least a week, according to a statement from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. Superintendent John O’Brien said in the statement the district would reevaluate case numbers as the state catches up on a backlog of testing during the next week.
“Even with our mitigation plans, we have seen an exponential growth of positive cases in our schools this past week,” he said. “My hope is that we can slow the spread, and reopen schools as soon as Monday, October 26.”
The schools involved are: Aurora Borealis Charter School, Kaleidoscope Charter School, Kenai Alternative School, K-Beach Elementary, Kenai Middle School, Mountain View Elementary School, Nikiski Middle-High School, Nikiski North Star Elementary School, Redoubt Elementary School, River City Academy, Skyview Middle School, Soldotna Elementary School, Soldotna High School, Soldotna Montessori Charter School, Sterling Elementary School and Tustumena Elementary School.
The decision to transition to remote learning was made Tuesday night after district officials reviewed COVID-19 case counts for the last two weeks, analyzed the positivity rate in the last week and consulted with health officials. An average of 4.21 cases are reported daily in the central Peninsula, the district said.
Contact tracing has led to 63 staff and students being placed in a 14-day quarantine over the last few days, according to the statement.
Pre-K, kindergarten and special-education intensive needs students can still attend onsite classes, even while the rest of the school has switched to remote learning, the district said.