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With summer school underway, district shifts mask policy

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Masks are no longer required for students and staff in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. Incoming Superintendent Clayton Holland announced the change this week — ending a mandatory mask policy that drew ire from members of the borough administration but that the district said helped keep COVID-19 out of schools.

The new policy goes into effect Monday. Spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff said that’s for a few reasons.

For one, case rates have dropped on the Kenai Peninsula, down to what the district considers “low risk.”

“We also know that the CDC came out with new guidance for wearing face coverings for fully vaccinated people," Erkeneff said. "And then we know that lots more people have been vaccinated.”

The district is strongly suggesting face coverings for non-vaccinated staff and visitors, though that will be on the honor system.

“We’re still doing physical distancing of three feet or more if we can," Erkeneff said. "And then our summer programs are going the month of June. And so there’s still some cohorting and some mitigation practices that are in place that haven’t been changed.”

The district also still has a symptom-free protocol in place. Anyone who feels sick or has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 will be asked to stay home.

Erkeneff said later this summer, the district will do rapid COVID-19 testing on site so kids can find out if they’re sick while still at school.

The Anchorage School District has a similar new plan. It just removed its mask requirement for students in summer school.

Sabine Poux is a producer and reporter for the Brave Little State podcast of Vermont Public. She was formerly news director and evening news host at KDLL in Kenai.

Originally from New York, Sabine has lived and reported in Argentina and Vermont and Kenai.
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