District touts 'Dashboard' for school status updates
While schools on the Southern Kenai Peninsula will open for classes on Monday, parents have the option of keeping their kids at home from day one for either remote learning or home-schooling.
District spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff talked about the options available in an online video.
“When we think about what it's like to go to school right now, we know that there's not a lot of predictability if the risk levels are going to change. So we're designing the dashboard that I think is amazing -- shout out to our IT Department -- so anybody can go to the website every day and check where we are with this 14-day (trend) and what's trending in seven days so that you have an idea where you're going,” she said. “There's updates that will be on the homepage when people need to know what the area is that's maybe at high risk and closed or we're shifting something really fast, just like a snow day.”
She said the district has divided the borough into three major areas, and smaller stand-alone community schools. The Southern Peninsula, the Central Peninsula, and the Seward area.
“So anyone can find out any day where we are at any given time in a school, and you can click on any of these to find out what school it is. So we might be in low risk and then schools are open, everybody's practicing all of our safety protocols. Medium risk schools are still open,” she said. “When we shift to high risk, there's only a few of the student populations that are more vulnerable that will be allowed on campus. And everything else will shift to a hundred percent remote learning.”
Erkeneff said the school district’s team at the Central Office will keep an eye on the Covid infection trends.
“So we're looking at what the daily counts are from the state. So we're taking the scientific data that the state has, that they've verified, and we're looking at the 14 day trends. We're looking at seven day averages. And remember with COVID, we're always looking behind us; It's not really what's happening, today. And so we're looking at all that with our medical advisory team to determine, 'is the risk really shifting to higher.' And we're working closely with you,” she said. “And then we have to look at if we have a positive case in a school with the school student or staff person, and that's a different thing and could require a different response than if we're looking at what these 14 big trends are.”
She explained how the decisions based on infection trends will be made by the Central Office.
“So the risk levels are happening based on district leadership. No school is deciding what their risk level is. That's happening with a team of people with science and medical and health input,” Erkeneff said. “And it's based on a metric and a matrix. But if there's a positive case at a school, it could trigger something happening for that particular school.”
Erkeneff emphasized that parents' best source of information is their child’s school.
Classes start Monday, and at this point, it appears that in the Southern Peninsula classes will be in session.