Gov. Mike Dunleavy issued his eighth health mandate for the State of Alaska, closing all private, religious and public schools until May 1 in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus.
“Given the increasing concern for new cases of COVID-19 around Alaska, the purpose of this mandate is to limit all close contacts (people outside of a family unit) to be farther than six feet from each other to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19,” a March 20 statement from the governor’s office explains.
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Many schools have implemented plans to offer online and distant learning options for students during the closures, but all school activities must be suspended.
“These are measures to protect Alaskans,” the governor’s mandate states. “We appreciate the public’s understanding of this mandate in an effort to mitigate this virus.”
The vast majority of private schools in Alaska are religious based and many are run by churches. Most of these schools voluntarily followed the governor’s March 13 mandate that prohibited students from attending public schools through March 30.
Anchorage Christian School shut its doors to students on March 16 and has implemented online learning resources and take-home packets for students to work through. Monroe High School, a Catholic school in Fairbanks, also followed the lead of public schools throughout the state, first extending spring break and now closing for good until May 1. Others, like Faith Community School in Juneau and Grace Christian School in Anchorage had also shut down with their public school counterparts.
Many schools are using the time to sanitize their buildings while figuring out how seniors can complete their coursework and graduate on time.