Schools are shut down, flights are canceled, sports are stopped, beaches are closed, Ketchikan is in chaos after the onset of the new virus that began in Wuhan China, COVID-19. Amid this chaos, teachers, administrators, and school board members are hard at work developing and implementing an online school program to continue much-needed education.
Bridget Mattson president of the Ketchikan school board is on the front lines and said they are passing motions and focusing on ensuring the safety of the students.
“The school board held two emergency meetings on March 13 and 18 to discuss the situation and to pass the motion to suspend school instruction,” said Mattson. “These actions were confirmed and expanded when the governor mandated that school instruction would be closed until May 1. This is to give us time to address all of the concerns to best serve the students in Ketchikan and give them the continued opportunity to learn.”
Administrators, teachers and the school board have been meeting via zoom meetings to discuss the process moving forward. They have been meeting since March 23 while students did not start meeting until March 30 and then only with elementary school teachers, middle school homeroom teachers, and high school advisory teachers to stay in touch and give the students some contact.
Nadire Zhuta a high school senior said she enjoys the zoom meetings as it gives her some interaction with her friends which is needed in this quarantined time.
“I’ve liked the zoom meetings so far because I get to see my friends which is good during this time where you don’t see many people besides family,” said Zhuta. “I think the instructional meetings will be really good, a bit awkward at first but I feel like they will get more and more normal and natural for students.”
Teachers at the high school will begin meeting with their classes individually starting April 6 but are unable to begin graded distance learning until a future unknown date. A lunch/breakfast program is in place and since March 23 students ages 0-18 have been able to pick up school lunches in the community.
Bridget Mattson school board president said the overarching goals and desires the district as a whole is trying to achieve.
“All of the logistical concerns that need to be addressed is in the desire to best serve the students in Ketchikan,” said Mattson. “Helping the students have a positive, educational school year in whatever ways we can, is what the district is working to achieve.”