School district looking at opening facilities

Jun 2, 2020

Credit KPBSD

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is working on contingency plans for reopening schools in the fall. At a Monday night school board meeting, Superintendent John O’Brien said the “Smart Start” workgroup, made up of parents, teachers, staff and administrators, is working with the state to develop various options, since no one knows what the COVID-19 situation will be in August.

“Scenarios for low-risk, medium-risk and high-risk situations that are plans that can be developed and implemented, not necessarily as a one-size-fits-all for the entire district, but that will be agile enough and flexible enough to be implemented in various parts of the school district, depending upon the situation,” O’Brien said.

He said the district has heard from parents and community members in the past few weeks, insisting the district open facilities immediately. Tammy Miller, of the Soldotna area, spoke to the board Monday about allowing soccer teams to practice this summer.

“Thus far, I have seen KPBSD administration making decisions to try and prevent liability and lawsuits,” Miller said. “I have not seen them putting forth every effort to make sure every kid is educated properly or that each kid has the best childhood school experience possible. So in the fall, I want to see all kids in school with minimal disruptions, and I want to see sports ongoing without any real disruptions, either.” 

O’Brien noted that COVID-19 cases have recently increased significantly, statewide and on the peninsula, and the district is monitoring the situation daily.

“We want our students to be able to participate in summer activities and we want our public to be able to access our pools and other facilities. However, we need to make sure that in doing so, that public health mandates and advisories are followed and that we have safe mitigation plans in place,” O’Brien said.

He said the district’s goal is to have open-air facilities, such as soccer fields, open for use “soon,” indoor facilities, such as gyms, open July 1 and pools open shortly thereafter. But he warned that could change if cases continue to spike.