Dear Parents/Guardians and Students,
Since my last update on Feb.15, in which I communicated a prospective in-person start date of March. 29, we have seen COVID-19 case rates in the Fairbanks Northstar Borough continue to hover just above 10.
As of this week, we have received confirmation that there has been no community spread in Nenana for over a month. We have consulted with public health (DHSS) regarding the effectiveness of our Smart Start plan to date and the implications moving forward. Public health has acknowledged our ability to do so given the current low risk in Nenana, vaccine distribution, and new guidance from CDC. The CDC K-12 Operational Strategy targeting mitigation strategies to avoid COVID-19 transmission in schools can be viewed HERE.
The top 5 mitigation strategies to avoid COVID-19 transmission in schools include:
1. Universal and correct wearing of masks
2. Physical distancing
3. Handwashing and respiratory etiquette
4. Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, including ventilation improvements
5. Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, in collaboration with the State, local, territorial or Tribal health departments
While each of these strategies is important, emphasis will be placed on the universal and correct wearing of masks and physical distancing.
In considering this guidance, along with prioritizing a) what's best for students' academic needs and social-emotional health in the months ahead, and b) what's best for NCS program operations in the long-term, NCS leadership has concluded that we will move forward with a return to in-person school as proposed. We are hopeful that our efforts to do so will provide valuable lessons to inform our planning for a smooth return to in-person education in August, along with potential summer programming.
Details informing our approach are available at the link HERE.
In summary, please refer to the following in-person start dates:
3/29 K-4 students in building w/orientation assembly
3/30 K-8 students in building w/orientation assembly for 5-8 students
3/31 K-12 (local) students in building w/orientation assembly for 9-12 students
Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions.