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Yukon schools to continue in-class teaching for students

Despite a rising number of positive cases of COVID-19, the Yukon School District said Monday it will continue with in-school classes … at least for now.
Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth said there are possibilities of going to either an A/B schedule or returning to the district’s continuous learning plan.
Simeroth said principals throughout the district have prepared an A/B schedule, which would have students attend in-person on certain days of the week based on their last name.

Kayleen Browning, a fifth-grade teacher at Redstone Intermediate School, works with a student in her classroom. Browning said she is happy to have students back in the traditional setting. Photo / Provided

However, that is among the last resorts for the district. He said the preferred method is to continue teaching students in-class all the time.
Another option would be using the district’s continuous learning plan. That would mean students would return to virtual classes, the same as when the year began.
As for the A/B schedule possibility, Simeroth said should the district go in that direction, it needs to be done correctly.
“We hope we don’t have to go that route,” he said.
The decision on an alternative learning option will be based on the number of COVID cases, as well as state health department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, he said.
There is no specific “trigger” for the decision, he said.
“We’re going to continue on with our in-person learning as it is currently. But it is fair to say this could change in the future,” he said,
That change could occur if there is a lack of available substitute teachers or a significant increase in teachers who are ill.
Also, if student attendance at a school falls below 80 percent, the school could be closed.
Simeroth said thus far that has not happened, though some classes have been closed because of COVID-19 quarantines.
“That’s an inevitability,” he said of the class closures.
Most of those have happened at the elementary and intermediate school level.
At the middle school and high school level, no classes have been closed, though groups of students have been quarantined.
“Groups are going to happen. We just pray for them to be safe and consistent in what they do,” he said.
Simeroth also reminded the school board that masks are required for everyone in school.
Meanwhile, the district said last week that it has changed the way parents and guardians are notified about COVID-19 cases.
Larrissa Lockwood, a spokesperson for the district, said via video that was posted to the district’s social media pages and on the district’s YouTube page, that parents of students in a classroom where a COVID case has been identified will be notified immediately.
However, parents outside of that student’s classroom will not necessarily be informed.
Those who had close contact will be notified through email, phone calls and texts.
The district also has begun providing classroom updates, via text message for students in the same classroom as someone with a positive test result, even if the students didn’t have close contact.
The district, two weeks ago, began providing updated numbers of COVID cases in each school on its website,
The numbers, which includes percentages, are updated on Friday.
As of Oct. 1, there had been 11 new positive cases reported, and 339 students were in quarantine.
Five Yukon schools: Central, Myers Ranchwood, Redstone and Yale have not reported a case of COVID-19 among its students since the district began tracking them in June.
Central, Parkland, Shedeck, Skyview, Surrey Hills and Yale also reported no staff members with positive cases.
In total, there have been 34 positive tests in the Yukon School District.
Every school has had at least two people quarantined.
In all, the district has seen at least 579 people who have been quarantined.
The largest number of quarantines has been at the high school, where 201 students and staff have been quarantined, the district said.
This week’s total includes 141 people in quarantine from Yukon High School, while Lakeview Intermediate reported 62 in quarantine.
Surrey Hills Elementary reported 42 people in quarantine.

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