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Bering Strait School District Reopens Majority of its Schools to Students

Bering Strait School District School Board
The Bering Strait School District's board of education — including Aaron Iworrigan, Superintendent Dr. Bobby Bolen, and Board Chair Aurora Johnson — gathered in Golovin for their first meeting of the new school year. Photo: Laura Kraegel, KNOM.

After two weeks of distance learning, the Bering Strait School District (BSSD) is set to reopen its schools in a modified capacity today.

BSSD officially began the school year on August 26th with the Back to School Readiness Challenge, a distance-learning model, that allowed students to safely get back into the school mindset without being in the building.

“The activities, I think, were good… kept kids somewhat engaged and restarted their brains thinking about school.”

– BSSD Superintendent Dr. Bobby Bolen

Now, BSSD Superintendent Dr. Bobby Bolen says the district is ready to welcome students back face-to-face for their modified school opening on September 14th. Superintendent Bolen explained what the reopening looks like generally for the 15 schools in BSSD.

“Most schools have divided their students into two groups, groups A and B. Group A will attend on Monday and Tuesday. Group B will attend on Wednesday and Thursday. There won’t be any school on Friday for cleaning, staff meetings, and professional development, and things like that with staff.”

Stebbins and Brevig Mission will not be reopening until at least September 21st because of positive COVID-19 cases in both the student and wider community populations. According to BSSD’s website, Stebbins has three positive student cases and five community cases, while Brevig Mission has one positive student case and one community case.

Although the modified school opening will be more like the traditional school schedule, extensive safety protocols are still in place to protect students and staff members. In addition to maintaining social distancing protocols, Superintendent Bolen says the district has other measures in place.

“[BSSD schools] will have still the temperature checks, the daily screenings to make sure kids don’t have any symptoms and they feel okay when they come in. We still will have face masks on [and] face shields for those that need them.”

For the next three weeks, BSSD schools will be operating in the yellow or “medium” risk status and are planning to go back to the green level, with students in school five days a week, on October 5th.

Image at top: The Bering Strait School District’s board of education from 2015.

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