education

Jenny Neyman/Redoubt Reporter

When public schools closed in March, it left many families scrambling for child care.

But child care facilities had to deal with pandemic risks, too. Though Alaska designated those facilities essential and said they could stay open when other businesses had to close, some ended up closing their doors anyway, for various reasons.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Schools Superintendent John O’Brien has announced the district’s planning for opening up school again in the fall.


Like most colleges and schools, Kenai Peninsula College made an emergency switch to entirely distance education and shut down its campuses around mid-March. The college is planning to go forward next fall with mostly distance-delivered  classes but there will be a handful of in-person classes when possible.

The college has summer classes but they’re all online, the way the spring was. By the time fall semester starts in September, some classes will be back to meeting in person — but only some, and in smaller numbers, with protective measures in place. Other typical functions, like the art galleries, will stay closed for the fall.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s announcement Thursday that distance delivery of education will continue through the rest of the school year did not come as a surprise to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. Communications Director Pegge Erkeneff says the district has been expecting to continue the remote learning system it began March 30 through the end of school May 20.

“Overall, we’ve heard really positive things. The schools are there for our kids, our nurses are reaching out, we’re doing the lunch programs. And we can always improve, so we look forward to hearing, ‘What do you need?’ And we’ll be as responsive as we can,” she said.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is as up in the air as everyone else about what the coronavirus pandemic will mean, financially.

The district’s Board of Education met Monday via teleconference. Acting Superintendent Dave Jones outlined several factors that will impact the district — one good, most bad.

The district has no mechanism to raise its own money, so is at the mercy of the borough, state and federal governments for revenue. Borough administration had committed to funding the district next year to the full amount allowed under state statute. But, given the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic, Jones said that Mayor Charlie Pierce has warned that might not happen.

“He’s very concerned about the economic effect that’s happening in our borough, especially what is going to happen with our sales tax and with the possible delinquent taxes that could not get paid. Has a concern that they may not be able to support to the amount that they had originally committed to,” Jones said.

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