Anchorage School District sends teachers home in the middle of planning, cancels supply pick up

East High School Principal Sam Spinella places a “School is closed” sign on the door of the school. Schools are closed to students until at least March 30th to help slow the spread of COVID-19. (Joey Mendolia/Alaska Public Media)

The Anchorage School District abruptly sent teachers and staff home this morning and canceled video conference calls with staff mid-meeting.

The district says the directive came in response to Governor Dunleavy’s most recent health mandate released Tuesday.

The mandate emphasizes social-distancing practices, especially if people have returned from travelling out of state. It states social-distancing “may mean not going to work or school if you cannot safely be distanced from others.”

An earlier announcement from the Governor closed schools for two weeks, but that was just for students.

Read more: Alaska public schools closed to students until March 30, governor says

This week and the next were supposed to be dedicated to giving teachers an opportunity to plan for a remote-education in the increasingly likely event that schools are closed for an extended period of time in order to slow to spread of COVID-19.

As of Wednesday morning, teachers and other district staff have been instructed to telecommute and work from home. Parents who had scheduled a time to pick up their children’s school work and belongings were told those appointments had been canceled.

In a letter to families, Superintendent Deena Bishop said the decision could “limit in-person interaction between ASD staff members and the public,” but it is an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Read more: Anchorage School District will open food distribution sites during school closure.

The district will continue to serve students a free breakfast and lunch and maintain mobile food service routes for families who cannot get to a distribution site. Find all of the distribution sites and routes online.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Read more coronavirus coverage from Alaska Public Media

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