New COVID precautions for Nome public schools

In a room 3 masked people stand facing a woman holding her right hand up.

Children can soon get the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine at school. At the November Nome Public School Board of Education meeting, superintendent Jamie Burgess announced that the Nome Elementary School principal is coordinating with Norton Sound Health Corporation and the temporary school nurse to set up a vaccine clinic in the school. Children must provide a permission slip from their parents to receive the shot.

“Our goal is to get 80% vaccinated, staff and students there, and once we reach that and the community cases start to drop back down to single digits, then we’ll look at starting to let go of some of the mask wearing,” Burgess said.

The school district is purchasing rapid antigen tests to test asymptomatic students at the schools rather than at the hospital. The point of this is to test students more quickly and take some pressure off of the hospital system, Burgess explained. This measure is in coordination with NSHC, which is confirming any positive cases that the school may find. This work is possible thanks to the Nome school temporary nurse.

The other big topic of discussion at November’s Nome School Board meeting was a new initiative in cultural studies. In her report, Burgess announced that Nome-Beltz Middle/High School will be looking to hire a second cultural studies teacher.

We were informed this morning, we are excited, that Sitnasuak Native Corporation has elected to fund a request that was submitted on behalf of the school district by Ms. Cynthia Gray and Ms. Amber Otten,” Burgess said.

The school district will use Sitnasuak’s funds along with funds from a language and cultural grant from Nome Eskimo Community to make this hire.

In addition, Burgess reported that the district will draft a budget to be shared in January.

“Then we have a couple of opportunities for drafts, reviews, presentation and discussion in a work session with the city council for discussion especially around the city contribution to that,” Burgess said.

The Nome School Board approved both action items on its agenda. The first item was an approval of the DDC proposal to allocate funds to work on renovating the heating and ventilation systems through the schools, and the second item approved a sewer repair contract. The Nome School Board next meets on Dec. 14.

Image at top: Nome Public School Board of Eduction President, Sandy Martinson. Photo courtesy of Nome School Board (2021).