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Juneau School District Update: COVID-19 cases, alert levels & testing

August 20, 2021 – FYI

Within the first week of the Juneau School District school year, multiple positive cases of COVID-19 have showed up in schools. As of August 19, JSD reported nine cases appearing in five schools. Read JSD’s COVID-19 mitigation protocols here.

COVID-19 CASES

Each time JSD learns of a case, Juneau Public Health Center and district protocols are followed to isolate the individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 and identify close contacts. Juneau Public Health is currently having a difficult time, as is JSD, keeping up with the contact tracing demand. JSD may have to close a classroom for a day in order to do the proper tracing, before making final decisions on close contacts.

As JSD goes through the contact tracing process with public health, JSD identifies, with the teacher and principal, who may have been exposed in the school and who may need to quarantine and/or get tested. Anyone who is considered a close contact is notified directly and given instructions – which can differ depending on circumstances and vaccination status.

The decision to shift a whole classroom to distance learning will also depend on circumstances. An elementary classroom where there is lots of intermixing and where students are in closer proximity, while masked, may require more individuals to quarantine than a classroom where student contact is more limited. A secondary classroom where students are sitting in desks and masked may not result in any quarantines. When a student or a classroom is quarantined, learning activities will be provided. If your child is quarantined, you will get more information from the school at that time.

After the school communications, case information is added to the COVID-19 case reporting block on the district website. To track the positive cases in Juneau School District facilities, visit juneauschools.org and click on the green COVID-19 Cases block.

ALERT LEVELS

With CBJ raising the city’s alert level to HIGH, JSD is watching things closely. The district’s level will now move to Moderate in response to the cases reported in schools in the past few days.

What does that mean?

  • Current operations will remain.  No shift to distance learning at this time. If cases continue to rise we will make decisions based on location of cases, timing of cases, volume of cases, etc.
    • If necessary, options considered for changes in operational status could be one of the following:  distance learning for a classroom during a quarantine; a school shifting to distance learning for a short period of time; a return to a hybrid model, meaning students attend for shorter periods of time and/or fewer days per week; and, as a last resort, a district wide shift to distance learning.
  • Reducing capacity in schools by limiting school day visitors/volunteers.
  • Moving some parent events to virtual.
  • Activities spectators will follow the CBJ mask guidelines for outdoor activities: masks required unless 6 feet of distancing is in place.
  • Continue to increase handwashing, distancing, masking, air purifying, etc.

CBJ mitigation strategies do not directly apply to the school district, but the CBJ Emergency Operations Center is in close, regular contact with the district and they work together on community and school mitigation measures to have coordinated strategies. The school district is responsible for the mitigation plan and operational decisions for the school district. The CBJ EOC regularly reviews and provides exemptions to groups seeking to have gatherings larger than 20 people. The key criteria in granting these approvals is masking, distancing, and other similar criteria that are already in place in JSD’s current mitigation plan.

TESTING

If you need a COVID-19 test you can register online for the City and Borough of Juneau’s Drive-Thru testing facility. You’ll get results within 24 hours. Registering online is a convenient option, though anyone can still call the COVID-19 Hotline at 586-6000 from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily to schedule an appointment.

Please note: This online registration system will only allow you to pick a date for the test. After you complete the form, a COVID-19 Hotline staff member will call you to confirm a time. For more information, call 586-6000 or email COVIDquestions@juneau.org.

See other locations to get a COVID-19 test in Juneau here. NOTE: The Juneau airport does NOT offer testing for individuals with symptoms. COVID-19 testing at the airport is open to public for travel-related and asymptomatic testing ONLY.