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District updates COVID protocols

Sabine Poux/KDLL

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District will no longer contact trace for COVID-19 in schools or require masks on a school-by-school basis. That’s according to a change in district policy, effective Friday.

The district cites lower community transmission levels and new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the change. Community case rates on the Kenai Peninsula have fallen since an omicron surge late last month, though case rates are still considered "high" throughout the region under current metrics.

The new mask policy in particular means the district won’t require face coverings anymore in individual schools. Although the district has largely kept masking optional this school year, there are currently criteria that could trigger universal masking in a school, like high rates of staff absenteeism or community COVID-19 spread.

District spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff said starting Friday, that will no longer be the case.

"The change now will be that it won’t matter what level we’re at, at low, medium or high," she said. "There won't be the requirement to wear face coverings. They’re strongly encouraged. But we won’t be shifting schools to universal masking.”

There are some exceptions to the rule. Masks are required on buses, due to a federal Department of Transportation mandate.

“And then the one other piece is if somebody tests positive for COVID and their symptoms are resolved or resolving, or they didn’t even have symptoms, they can come back to school on day 6," Erkeneff said. And they do need to wear a face covering on days six through 10. So that is the one exception.”

That’s consistent with existing district policy. “Day six” is the sixth day after someone receives a positive COVID-19 test. Students and staff who test positive but do have symptoms must wait 10 days before returning to school or work.

Erkeneff said there are still resources available for families dealing with COVID-19 or exposures, including free at-home tests. The district’s entire COVID-19 policy is online at

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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