Voices of Alaska Education
Our Mission: To advocate for children and youth by assisting school boards in providing
quality public education, focused on student achievement, through effective local governance.
Special Edition - April 27, 2020
To help keep you informed of rapidly changing new developments, special editions of Commentary will be published weekly through the end of the 2020 school year.
Planning a Pandemic Graduation Ceremony? Here's Official Guidance.
The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, with approval from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, has released guidelines for school districts’ consideration regarding conducting graduation ceremonies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In general, educational institutions may conduct graduation ceremonies by following social distancing requirements: groups of less than 20 people, individuals must be 6 feet apart, non-speaking personnel must wear face coverings, and no physical interaction between participants. Detailed guidelines are provided for various types of ceremonies, including Virtual/Live-Streaming, In-Person, Drive-In, and Walk-Through.

Juneau Students and Educators Prepare for Uncertain Fall Transitions
Emily Ferry, AASB Collective Impact Coordinator
In many communities, spring marks the arrival of crocuses, songbirds, and the next crop of new students. In past years you’ve probably seen signs of this annual pilgrimage. Lines of wiggly Head Start students walking over to the kindergarten classroom, yellow school buses zipping 5th graders over to the middle school, 8th graders excited and overwhelmed by the choices available in 9th grade, and anxious high school students trying to look chill and blend in while scoping out the college campus.
Jim Thompson, Principal of Floyd Dryden Middle School in Juneau, performs a magic trick during a Zoom orientation webinar for incoming 5th graders and their families.
Like most school-related events, this annual rite of passage looks different in 2020. School officials are coming up with creative workarounds to help students and families begin to make the transition from one school to the next.

In Juneau, the middle school principals set-up a Zoom meeting for incoming students during the school day and another that was geared for families in the evening. Floyd Dryden Middle School Principal Jim Thompson and incoming Principal Kristy Germain spoke with enthusiasm about the fresh and zesty teachers students would encounter in the fall. They outlined the schedule and what to expect, built connections with the school counselors and teachers, and encouraged kids to practice using a lock over the summer to reduce locker-induced anxiety in the fall. Principal Thompson even wowed the 5th graders with a magic trick.

For younger students, books and activity packets mailed to incoming kindergartners are giving them hands-on practice with tools they’ll encounter in the classroom. Videos, emailed tips, and online guides like Ready Rosie are helping both kids and their families feel comfortable and ready for the next school year. And for older students, virtual visits with advisors and other support staff are helping incoming freshmen feel connected and ready.
Melody Douglas Receives UA Excellence in Adjunct Instruction Award
UAS Adjunct Professor of Education Melody Douglas has been named the recipient of the UAS 2019-20 Excellence in Adjunct Instruction Award. Her achievement will be honored May 4 at the annual UAS faculty excellence celebration, held via videoconference this year.

Ms. Douglas has served as interim Executive Director of the Alaska Association of School Business Officials (ALASBO), Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Superintendent of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, and is a longtime colleague of the Association of Alaska School Boards.
Melody Douglas
Through a Q&A session conducted by email, we had the opportunity to learn more about Ms Douglas' varied and interesting professional background in Alaska, her views on issues facing public schools, and her advice for students considering a career in school finance.

How Are Your Virtual School Board Meetings Going?
We're sure you and your board have insights to share, and we want to hear about them! How are you holding your school board meetings? What is working well? What tips or strategies do you have for other school boards?

Please take this short survey and let us know!
AASB Congratulates 2020 June Nelson Scholarship Winners!
The Association of Alaska School Boards is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 scholarship competition!

Free 'Professional Boundaries' Policy
AASB and APEI have treamed up to offer a 'Professional Boundaries' policy designed to protect students from inappropriate adult behaviors. The policy is free to all districts, not just those subscribing to AASB’s Policy Update Service or insured by APEI.
The policy is comprehensive and clearly identifies behaviors and corrective actions to assist you in your responsibilities of caring for students. We strongly encourage you to consider adopting the policy into your local policy manual.

Zoom Fatigue: Don't Let Video Meetings Zap Your Energy
Suzanne Degges-White, Psychology Today
When you’re on your sixth Zoom or Skype meeting of the day, or you’re hanging out with your friends or colleagues for a virtual happy hour, you are likely to feel a kind of exhaustion from that screen time that's unlike the exhaustion you’d feel from an hour at the gym. Even extroverts can feel worn down by the “high-intensity virtual connecting.”

Here are some "cheats" to help you beat Zoom fatigue before it beats you.

Practice Safe Zooming!
These Zoom Security Protocols for setup and hosting will help keep your meetings safe and protect student privacy.

Upcoming Webinars for Boards
School Law Basics
Wednesday, May 6, 2020 at Noon
Join  Lon Garrison (AASB)  and education attorney  John Sedor (Sedor, Evans, Wendlandt & Filippi)  as they discuss the basics of local, state and federal laws that affect school boards and the districts they serve.
Upcoming Webinars for Teachers
- WEBINARS - Remote Learning for Educators
Hands-On Help for Teachers
Office hours and webinars to help you get started and solve your remote learning challenges.
Support and Instruction for Educators and Administrators
Learn from thought leaders about how to effectively apply best strategies in a remote learning environment.
- WEBINARS - Smithsonian Virtual Learning PD

The Smithsonian Learning Lab is committed to supporting teachers and their students around the globe as they face unprecedented new learning challenges.
See the  Events and Professional Development page  for live and on-demand webinars. 

 Visit the Distance Learning Page  for resources, trainings, and a full calendar of live events hosted by Smithsonian experts.
District Dispatches

As this unprecedented school year draws to a close,
school districts across Alaska are making plans
for alternate graduation ceremonies.

How is your district planning to celebrate your graduates?

Anchorage School District
The district created committees of students, staff, and parents at each high school to brainstorm ideas for graduation alternatives. They decided on providing yard signs for students to personalize, memorabilia boxes, and commemorative graduation videos that will air on KTUU along with a longer video on ASD's YouTube page.

Each school will create festive stations in their parking lots with balloons, signs, and decorations. Students to come by and pick up their items and have their photo taken. The distribution will follow social distancing guidelines, and schedules will outline when students can pick up their items.
Bristol Bay Borough School District
Michael Swain, School Board President

We plan to hold a "traditional" graduation ceremony later in the summer or fall when social distancing mandates allow. Also, I will personally deliver diplomas to the homes of each graduate on May 9th, the original scheduled date of their graduation. We are looking at a couple other ways to additionally honor our seniors, but those plans aren't finalized as of yet.
Denali Borough School District

Letter to the Class of 2020
Ms. Gretchen Striker, Class Advisor
Reprinted from the Viking Saga Newsletter

Dear Tri-Valley Seniors,

Here we are, expecting this year to be memorable because it marks the 50th graduating class at Tri-Valley. We planned to celebrate those that came before you and the history of your school and community.
Now the focus has shifted and the spotlight is on all of you. You are now the pioneers, the first to graduate during a global pandemic. You will now equate your graduation with a very different historical event but be sure that you will all be revered in Tri-Valley history.

Reminiscing on your high school career, there are so many wonderful memories of this senior class, a group of unique individuals who each left their mark on TVS. The path forward is uncertain, but you are surrounded by friends and family celebrating your achievements and sharing your aspirations for the future.

As much as we all share your disappointment and feel sadness for being deprived of those final days of senior year, the class of 2020 brings hope to a desperate situation. It is okay to grieve the loss of traditions and a normal graduation ceremony, but you are trailblazing new traditions, new ways to honor the achievements of all graduates. You provide the rallying cry of strength and resilience, of creating the best possible outcome of a difficult situation and you are beacons of light in these dark times.

The whole community is rallying around you to proclaim the immense pride and delight we all feel towards every graduate. Let’s make some noise, let’s shout from the rooftops that the class of 2020 has persevered and they are unstoppable! Horns Up!
Haines Borough School District
Sara Chapell, School Board

Haines is planning an o nline webinar-style graduation ceremony.
Hydaburg School District
Margaret Peele, School Board

We are planning to do a caravan of cars by each graduate's home, and decorating their homes.
Hydaburg teachers hold a special event for hunkered-down students
KINY, Juneau
Teachers and staff in the City of Hydaburg got together on Friday to do something special for their students. As the days of hunkering down unfolded in Hydaburg, some teachers and administrators began to realize that they were becoming disconnected from their students
Teachers and staff from Hydaburg schools take to their parade route on Friday.
"We didn’t feel good about it," said teacher Prophetess Hayden. "So, we decided to do something about it."

The teachers, Hayden said, decided to let students know how much they love and miss them by having a parade.

"We wanted it to be fun and memorable," Hayden said.

According to Hayden, Assistant Superintendent Camille Booth, who lives in Ketchikan, ordered decorations, and teachers and staff got together using social distancing to decorate vehicles in one location, while others decorated their vehicles from their homes.

With music blaring and the firetruck leading the parade procession, the educators began the parade route honking horns, yelling, “We love you” and, “We miss you."
"We were so glad we did it," Hayden said, "It uplifted us and we felt like it uplifted the community, so much so we’re going to do it again in May."
North Slope Borough School District
Madeline Hickman, School Board

For the village of Wainwright, the principal had been meeting with the seniors and have been planning the type of graduation they will do. They have planned an outdoor graduation for people to watch as they are given their diploma. The Mayor of Wainwright, SAC president, and myself will be having a meeting with the principal as to do’s and don’t s that will happen on May 1.
Meanwhile, in Japan...
Robots replace university students in Zoom graduation ceremony
Bonnie Burton, c/net
BBT University graduate students in Tokyo, who weren't allowed to have a traditional graduation ceremony due to coronavirus concerns, used telepresence robots to stand in their place. Digital tablets were attached to the heads of the robots, showing the faces of students who used a Zoom conference call to attend the graduation ceremony remotely.

BBT University President Kenichi Omae poses with the students who are using telepresence robots to attend graduation.
Education Resources
How to Reach Students Without Internet
This is a living document, created by members of the Teaching Without Internet Alliance of groups. Our aim is to share stories, strategies, and resources for those teaching in areas without wide adoption of internet or devices so as to further innovation in remote or unconnected places across the world.
We are educators, teachers, parents, community leaders, and technologists with experience in responding to reaching students who may be primarily offline. Below are our ongoing key recommendations with tangible, concrete examples whenever possible.

10 strategies for online learning during a coronavirus outbreak
Jennifer Snelling and Diana Fingal, ISTE
As the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to spread, schools around the globe are shifting to online learning in an effort to slow the spread of the disease. Members of ISTE’s professional learning networks have been hard at work identifying key practices for successful online learning.

Here are some of the best ideas from educators from around the world, many of whom have already been teaching during coronavirus closures.

Free Achieve3000 Reading & Literacy Resources
As a partner in the shift to distance-based learning, Achieve3000 is offering free At-Home Usage for all students in both Literacy and Actively Learn platforms.

Achieve3000 is also offering sample language and tools for constructing a Literacy Plan to assist districts in adjusting to meet the needs of remote learning.
School Leadership During Crisis
Jill Anderson, Harvard Graduate School of Education
There is no guidebook for school leaders as they make decisions and try to move forward during the pandemic. With more than 55 million children out of school right now, Professor Deborah Jewell-Sherman ponders what may be on the minds of school leaders in these difficult times, and advises on how they can stay grounded and plan for the future.

Building Positive Conditions for Learning at Home: Strategies and Resources for Families and Caregivers
American Institutes for Research
As we all adjust to the current situation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that we create safe, supportive, and engaging spaces for learning at home. Think about these four elements—your readiness and your child’s experience of safety, support, and engagement—like building a house.

COVID-19 Resources for Farm to School
National Farm to School Network has compiled resources related to COVID-19 that are relevant to the 'farm to school' and 'farm to early care and education' community. Resources include Child Nutrition Programs & School Meals, Early Care & Education, Funding Support, Local Producer Resources, Native & Tribal Communities Resources, Remote Learning Resources for students, Policy & Advocacy, Media, Articles & Resource Lists, Equity, and more. Updated regularly.

Wellness, SEL, & Trauma-Engaged Resources
Being quarantined at home for extended periods can increase the amount of stressors for families, students, and teachers connecting remotely. Here are resources to help.
Baby Raven Reads

Sealaska Heritage sponsors Baby Raven Reads, an award-winning program that promotes early-literacy, language development and school readiness for Alaska Native families with children up to age 5.

'What Home Means To Me' Poster Contest
for Tribal Youth

All posters must be original art work using markers, paints, crayons, colored pencils, beads and fabric. Get as creative as you'd like! Create a poster that shows what home means to you! 3 age categories: 5-10, 11-13, and 14-18. Submit entries by June 30.

Transforming Schools:
A Framework for Trauma-Engaged Practice in Alaska

This framework brings together lessons learned by school staff and community members within Alaska while integrating school-wide trauma-engaged approach to improve academic outcomes and well-being for all students.

NIEA SURVEY: COVID-19 Education Services and Programs for Native Students

Your voice is critical to strengthening NIEA's policy priorities during this unprecedented moment in our classrooms and beyond.

As NIEA continues to advocate for funding and services that support our students and schools during the coronavirus epidemic, we seek guidance from each of you to ensure our policies reflect the needs on the ground.

Family Coping During the Coronavirus
Jill Anderson, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Small adjustments that can take the pressure off families, and let them enjoy the added time together.
As the world navigates the current pandemic, there has been a dramatic increase in how much time families are spending together, leading many parents and caregivers to feel pressured into being everything — parent, friend, teacher — for their child. Child developmental psychologist Junlei Li says it doesn’t have to be that way.

The Smithsonian's Educational Response to the COVID crisis
A choice board allows caregivers to choose activities and resources based on the technology available to them: no tech, low tech, moderate and high tech options are provided. This board changes every week.
There's also a calendar of live events and opportunities to catch Smithsonian webinars, chats with experts, etc.
Take a look at some of Learning Lab's most popular collections:
David Attenborough to Teach Virtual Geography Lessons to Kids in Quarantine
Lake Schatz, Consequence of Sound
Kids in quarantine have a wide range of content to keep them busy these days. For those tikes looking to stay up to date on geography, they’ll now have the guidance of Sir David Attenborough .

In partnership with the BBC, the renowned broadcaster and natural historian will be teaching virtual geography classes to students across the UK.
Sir David Attenborough
Photo: BBC America
The livestreams will be focused on mapping out the world and its oceans and understanding animal behavior, subjects the 93-year-old expert has explored plenty on classic documentary programs such as Life on Earth and its sequel The Living Planet.

CNN and Sesame Street host town hall to teach kids (and their parents) about COVID-19
Tyler Aquilina, Entertainment Weekly
Sesame Street has never shied away from addressing difficult topics, and that includes the coronavirus pandemic. On Saturday, April 25, CNN hosted "The ABC's of Covid 19," a town hall in partnership with Sesame Street to address kids' and parents' concerns.
Photo: CNN
Moderated by Big Bird alongside CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Erica Hill, the 90-minute town hall featured experts and Sesame Street characters answering questions submitted by families, dealing with such issues as education, anxiety, screen time, and playdates during the ongoing crisis.

Highlights included Gupta teaching Elmo proper hand-washing technique and how to make a face mask, a PSA from Oscar the Grouch on "the perks of social distancing" ("This social distancing thing is kind of a grouch's dream!"), and various characters explaining how they're helping others during the pandemic.

Tinkergarten At Home

Helping families get outside to make the most of their kids’ early learning years. Get free weekly activities, how-to guides, and an active online community.

Coronavirus Information and Resources
DHSS Alaska Coronavirus Response Hub

The AK COVID-19 Dashboard from Alaska DHSS provides information, maps and resources about the coronavirus response in your local area. All data are updated daily at noon.

NEW Coronavirus Resources for Districts
Frequently updated resources for boards, administrators, educators, parents and families. The latest coronavirus information from state and national health organizations.
NEW Resources for Parents and Educators with Students at Home
An ever growing list of ideas and materials to support teachers, parents, and caregivers in search of ways to deliver instruction and daily activities to students learning remotely at home.
NEW Alaska Coronavirus Newsfeed
A summary of statewide Alaska media coverage
of the coronavirus pandemic impact. Updated daily.
On-Demand Webinars
AASB webinars for School Boards and Educators on conducting meetings and delivering instruction online, plus these other AASB webinar resources:
Internet Service Providers
Special offers for new or upgraded service for the remainder of the school year from ISPs, including ACS , ASTAC , GCI , KPU , MTA , and 2.5 GHz Rural Tribal Window from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Federal & State Government News
Please note - some news outlets may require registration or a paid subscription for link access. Others may grant free access to a limited number of articles before requiring a paid subscription.
Secretary DeVos Makes Available Over $13 Billion in Emergency Coronavirus Relief to Support Continued Education for K-12 Students
US Department of Education
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today that more than $13.2 billion in emergency relief funds are now available to state and local education agencies to support continued learning for K-12 students whose educations have been disrupted by the coronavirus.
This funding is allocated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed by President Donald J. Trump less than a month ago. Education leaders will have the flexibility to use funds from the Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief Fund (ESSER Fund) for immediate needs, such as tools and resources for distance education, ensuring student health and safety, and developing and implementing plans for the next school year.

State Education Agencies have until July 1, 2020, to apply for ESSER funds by submitting a simple signed Certification and Agreement form to  ESSERF@ed.gov. The Department intends to process each submitted form within three business days of receipt.

Lawmakers seek $2 billion E-Rate boost for distance learning
Betsy Foresman, edscoop
Lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a $2 billion bill to provide internet service to students during the pandemic.

With schools now holding classes online to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a record number of students are relying on access to high-speed internet and internet-connected devices to continue their educations, according to Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., who introduced the bill to address students’ immediate technology needs during the health crisis.

Getty Images
Gov. Dunleavy’s coronavirus aid plan would send $563 million to cities and boroughs, eliminating layoffs and tax hikes for many
James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy plans to distribute $562.5 million in federal aid to cities and boroughs across the state, part of a proposal to spend more than $1.25 billion approved last month by Congress.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks to the media during a coronavirus press conference. Photo: Bill Roth,
Local officials said they will use the money to cover the cost of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, provide aid to local residents and fill holes in local budgets. Several said Wednesday that the aid means they no longer need to raise taxes or cut jobs at schools and public facilities.

The federal government has not yet released firm guidance on what the money may be used for.

More cash aid from the state makes sense, economists say, but it may not be as simple as another PFD
Nathaniel Hertz, Alaska Public Media
As Alaska lawmakers prepare to reconvene, some are pushing for an extra Permanent Fund dividend payment, which would come on top of the $1,000 that the Legislature already budgeted for dividends earlier this year.

Lawmakers are already planning to spend what they deem to be the maximum sustainable amount from the $62 billion fund, or about $3 billion, in the fiscal year that starts July 1.
Sitka Republican Sen. Bert Stedman. Photo: Skip Gray/360 North
The cash will pay for dividends and government services. Spending more than that risks reducing the fund’s overall value and leaving less money for future generations of Alaskans.

But some lawmakers, led by Gov. Mike Dunleavy, say the dire, once-in-generations nature of the coronavirus pandemic requires drastic measures in response. And a number of of Alaska economists agree — though they stress that extra spending from the Permanent Fund should done carefully, and that it comes with trade-offs.

Why is Alaska a loser on SBA Disaster Loans? Here’s a clue.
Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media
No state fared worse than Alaska in receiving COVID-19 disaster loans from the Small Business Administration. A Bloomberg News reporter crunched the numbers and discovered an important correlation:
“What we found was that a handful of states, about a dozen states, that were the earliest states to request a disaster declaration got this outsized share of all the money,” said Bloomberg’s Zachary Mider, a reporter in New Jersey.

Just one Alaska company got an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, according to early federal data on the program.

NSBA Names Anna Maria Chávez Executive Director & CEO
The National School Boards Association (NSBA), the leading advocate for public education, today announced it has appointed Anna Maria Chávez as its Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Anna Maria Chávez
In her new role as the Executive Director and CEO, Chávez will be responsible for leading NSBA’s staff teams to advance the association’s mission and growing the value of the organization. Chávez will lead efforts to expand on NSBA’s strong federal, legal and public advocacy, reputation, and credible voice.

Chávez brings 25 years of extensive experience in government and non-profit organizational leadership and management, including strategic planning, advocating for children and under-served populations with federal and state legislators, building new partnerships, and growing revenues.

Currently, Chávez serves as the Interim President and CEO for the National Council on Aging (NCOA). Previously, she was NCOA’s Executive Vice President and Chief Growth Officer. For five years, Chávez served as Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of the USA.

Alaska Education News
Please note - some news outlets may require registration or a paid subscription for link access. Others may grant free access to a limited number of articles before requiring a paid subscription.
Nome School Board Requests $3-Million From City, Focuses on Inupiaq Immersion
Joe Coleman, KNOM
More local and traditional knowledge is set to be a key feature in future school years at Nome Public Schools. That was the Nome School Board’s focus last Tuesday night, when the Board also approved a third draft of the fiscal year 2021 budget and laid out the fourth quarter of this school year during their regular meeting.
The Board’s first online meeting via Zoom started with a discussion of NPS’s Strategic Equity Framework which is broken down into three main goals. One of those is integrating Inupiaq language and culture into curriculum in Nome Public Schools’ classrooms.

School Board removes books from curriculum
Tim Rockey Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman
On Wednesday, the Mat-Su Borough School District School Board voted 5-2 to ban the list of five controversial books as well as the use of New York Times curriculum as teacher resources.

The board was presented with a list of books including "The Things They Carried" by Tim O’Brien, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou, "Catch-22" by Joseph Heller, "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison and "The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

While Board President Tom Bergey voted with members Jim Hart, Ole Larson, Ryan Ponder and Jeff Taylor to ban the books and NYT curriculum, members Sarah Welton and Kelsey Trimmer voted against the amendment. No members of the public commented on the action.

School Board approves controversial civil rights course
Alex Bengel, KTVF
The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District has approved a controversial course for implementation next year. The course, titled the U.S. Civil Rights Experience, is part of a larger revision of the K-12 social studies curriculum, and will be offered as an elective class for 11th and 12th grade students. It has seen controversy because of the presence of LGBTQ perspectives within the course.

The controversial course, titled U.S. Civil Rights Experience, will be available for the 2020-2021 school year. Photo: Alex Bengel
Recycled computers fixed for Fairbanks students studying from home
Sara Tewksbury, KTVF
As classrooms move online, students who do not have computers struggle to keep up with their classwork. A local nonprofit Green Star of Interior Alaska is recycling computers and laptops to provide for students in need.

"When the COVID-19 crisis hit, we quickly heard from the school district that all of their kids were going to have to be learning from home and many kids did not have a computer at home outside of their parent’s cell phone,” said Tait Chandler, executive director of Green Star of Interior Alaska.
Finished laptops that are ready
to go to students in need.
Photo: Sara Tewksbury
Chandler says the school district was working to distribute chrome books to students they can but they do not have enough chrome books for every student. Chandler says to fill that gap; Green Star started working to fix laptops to donate to children who need a laptop to continue their schoolwork.

Anchorage School District faces the next distance-learning challenge: Many students aren’t logging in
Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News
Last week, more than 2,000 Anchorage high school seniors — about 62% — did not log in to their new online classes.
That’s according to data presented by the Anchorage School District’s deputy superintendent Mark Stock at Tuesday evening’s school board meeting. Stock and Superintendent Deena Bishop apprised the board of progress made in the three weeks since the district’s massive effort to switch its 45,849 students to distance learning. The shift began amid a statewide shutdown of school buildings meant to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

The district’s move involved a coordinated effort to train all teachers in online education, expand the district’s use of its preexisting online platforms, streamline coursework and lend thousands of students laptops and Wi-Fi hot spots.
Now, the district is examining the only clear measure of success it has right now — how often those students are logging in and accessing courses.

Tri-Valley principal sets online class expectations; COVID testing available at Cantwell Clinic
Kris Kapps, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
When classes in the Denali Borough first started being held online through Zoom, students tuned in, but some were texting on their phones and often distracted by other things.
Tri-Valley School Principal Nathan Pitt made a short video for parents, students and teachers, to demonstrate what kind of behavior is expected.

“When you are in a Zoom, you are in class, like when you are in school. I thought I could demonstrate some of the little things, just to reinforce, ‘we are in school,’” he said. “But it does look different.”

School district tackles distance learning challenges
Iris Samuels, Kodiakl Daily Mirror
The Kodiak Island Borough School District will offer expanded summer school programs for students of all ages to offset the school year disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to Superintendent Larry LeDoux.

Anchorage music teacher gets creative to teach rhythm, harmony at home
Liz Raines, KTVA
What do a pizza and music have in common? If you were in Ms. Dodge's music class at Kasuun Elementary, you might know the answer.

Anchorage students are now into week three of online learning, and some teachers are getting creative to offer specials classes, like music. Miranda Dodge is using online tools that intertwine mathematics, rhythm and familiar concepts, like pizza, to help kids cook up their own artistic masterpieces at home.

Photo: KTVA
BSSD Making a Thousand Face Shields, Some Masks for NSHC Healthcare Providers
Davis Hovey, KNOM
Two regional entities have formed a unique collaboration to distribute more personal protective equipment throughout the Bering Strait Region, in the midst of a global coronavirus pandemic. Employees with the Bering Strait School District are using school technology to create face shields, masks, and straps for the Norton Sound Health Corporation.

Photo: Chase Ervin, BSSD
Dillingham City School District provides over 5,000 meals during shutdown
Tyler Thompson, KDLG
The Dillingham City School District delivered over 5,000 meals in the past two weeks. The service kicked off at the end of March after the state mandated that schools remained shut down until May 1 due to the coronavirus.

The district ordered shelf stable foods from the Foodbank of Alaska. Business Manager Phil Hulett and 11 other staff members at the school are volunteering to make deliveries Monday through Friday. They start at 10:45 a.m. and follow the normal bus routes. Hulett says they average over 280 stops per day.

Koniag gives $50,000 toward COVID-19 relief
Sarah Lapidus, Kodiak Daily Mirror
Koniag Inc., an Alaska Native Corporation, has committed to donating $50,000 to nonprofits in Kodiak to help communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Koniag is one of 13 regional Alaska Native Corporations formed as part of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, which provided money, land and other natural resources to regional and village corporations across the state. Koniag covers Kodiak Island.

Following meetings with tribes, village corporations and nonprofits in the Kodiak region, Koniag identified food security as one of the region’s greatest needs

Assembly to fund $1.4 million to school
Caleb Vierkant, Wrangell Sentinal
The Wrangell Borough Assembly held a special meeting Thursday, April 16, to consider their local contribution to the Wrangell School District's budget.
According to the meeting's agenda packet, the city can provide the district anywhere between $583,830 and about $1.6 million. The district's current budget for FY 2021, which was adopted on March 19, has revenues set at about $5.68 million and expenditures at about $6.08 million.

KUAC TV offers educational programming for homeschoolers
Staff, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
KUAC TV is broadcasting educational shows for sixth through 12th grade students while schools are closed.
Since not every student has access to the internet, free public television can help provide learning opportunities through June 30, when the programming will end.

KUAC turned over its World Channel to offer programs on science, history and English language arts, backed up with related learning resources from PBS LearningMedia, a free online servicer with thousands of educational resources.

Students in Transition continues to provide services
Victoria Petersen, Peninsula Clarion
Students in Transition — an 18-year-old Kenai Peninsula Borough School District program that helps homeless students and students no longer in the custody of their parents or legal guardian — is still serving students amid the new coronavirus pandemic.

The school district is expecting to see an increase in the number of families experiencing economic hardship amid the global pandemic and economic crisis. As of April 16, the program was serving 171 students.

Thirty duffel bags filled by the Kenai Peninsul;a Association oif Realtors for children in the Kenai Peinsula School District's Students in Transition Program. Photo courtesy Kelly Martin
Lower Yukon School District COO Will Take Over as Superintendent This July
Joe Coleman, KNOM
The Lower Yukon School District has appointed a new superintendent to replace Hannibal Anderson, who has retired from the position after being superintendent since the fall of 2018.

The LYSD Board convened for a special session to find a new superintendent and successfully found a replacement in long-time Alaska educator, Gene Stone. The board started this search during a meeting on April 2 nd.
New Lower Yukon School District Superintendent Gene Stone.
Photo provided by Gene Stone
Anderson is expected to finish out this semester as superintendent and Stone will take over on or before July 1 st.

AASB Superintendent Search Service
Looking for a New Superintendent?

The Association of Alaska School Boards has been conducting successful and economical superintendent searches for over twenty years.
Our Superintendent Search Service provides expert facilitation of the entire search process, including identifying the needs of the district, recruiting candidates, conducting background searches, facilitating interviews, and all the steps to help with the hiring process. Learn about our Search Service

If you would like AASB to conduct a superintendent search for your district, or have questions,  Contact Us

On-Demand AASB Webinars
- NEW: AASB WEBINAR - Working With Your Community
Claudia Plesa and Tyler Breen host this webinar on how your Board—and you as a Board member—can work more effectively with your community to improve student success. Webinar | Slideshow

- AASB WEBINAR - Distance Teaching with Zoom
In this "office hours" session Professor Megan Gahl and AASB staff answer questions and hear teacher insights on how to keep students engaged while teaching online. Discussion Notes

- AASB WEBINAR - Tips for Engaging Learners From a Distance
In this educator-focused webinar, Professor Megan Gahl, Heather Coulehan and Emily Ferry provide an overview of Zoom basics and best practices, and engagement in online classrooms. Webinar & Resources | Distance Learning Tips and Tools guide

- AASB WEBINAR - Holding Your Meeting Remotely
In this board-focused webinar, Lon Garrison and Timi Tullis provide an overview of what board members need to know to hold successful remote meetings.
AASB Workshops for You and Your Board
AASB now offers condensed, distance-delivered versions of our popular workshops and training sessions. Member districts receive a special rate for AASB sessions: $600 includes preparation, up to 3 hours of training, and a post-training report.
  • Board/Superintendent Relations
  • How to run Effective Meetings
  • Board Self Evaluations (with a resulting board improvement plan)
  • Parliamentary Procedures
  • Board’s Quasi-Judicial Role
  • Using Your District’s Data for Planning
  • Data for School Boards
  • School Budget & Finance
  • Family Engagement
  • Youth Engagement
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Policy
  • Facilitated Superintendent Evaluation
  • Advisory School Committees
  • Charter Schools
  • Communications with your board
  • Labor Relations
  • Ethics
  • School Climate: What does School Climate & Connectedness look like now?
  • Trauma-Engaged Schools
  • Specialized facilitation:
  • Focus on particular issues
  • Choice of program
  • Scheduling to meet the needs of your board members and administrators
  • Team building
We can also provide customized solutions based on your needs. 
Please reach out to us.

- More Information -

Email Timi Tullis or call 907-321-4758
Your school district is a vital member of the Association of Alaska School Boards, our state’s leading advocate for public education. Together, we work to ensure equity by strengthening the connections between schools, families, tribes, communities, and government so that every Alaskan child has the opportunity to receive a quality public education.

The many services AASB offers are designed to provide maximum benefit to our members in meeting their district's goals. Check out our Membership Benefits brochure and let us know how we can assist you!

Association of Alaska School Boards | aasb.org