Anchorage high schools and middle schools get ready to welcome students back

Anchorage middle and high school students will return to in-person learning on March 15.
Anchorage middle and high school students will return to in-person learning on March 15.
Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 5:37 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage students are getting ready to go on spring break next week. When they return, some will be heading back to the classroom for the first time in a year.

In-person learning for Anchorage middle and high school students begins March 15. The district says that day is reserved mostly for freshmen and new students while the entire student body will return March 16.

Bartlett High School Principal Sean Prince is expecting at least a thousand students to be in the building that week. One of the challenges, he said, will be getting high school students used to a new routine.

“We are going to go right back into face-to-face [learning] right before the summer begins, so that’s a little bit of a lift,” Prince said. “It’s not something we can’t handle, but there’s definitely practices and procedures that are different from any other school year and we just have to be intentional in following those practices and setting them up as soon as kids get in school.”

Prince said the district has been working on COVID-19 mitigation since July, which has brought a number of changes to secondary schools.

“Schools are not using lockers; that’s a big change,” he said. “Passing periods are shorter because we don’t want people to be congregating in spaces; that’s another reason we don’t use lockers. And we don’t have a lunch period in the middle of the day.”

Campuses will be closed, meaning students can’t leave for lunch. Instead, students will be offered a snack to eat in their classrooms in midmorning and they can pick up a lunch to go at the end of the day.

Hours have also changed. High schools will start at 8:00 a.m. and students will be released at 1:15 p.m., according to the district’s website. Middle schools will start at 8:45 a.m. and run until 2 p.m. Specific start plans for schools are also available online.

Prince said he feels certain that, working together, they can pull off a good end to the school year.

“Everyone wants to get back to some sense of normalcy,” he said. “We all just need to do our part to make sure that happens.”

The district says parents must also play a part in helping schools stay open and safe. They are asking families to follow health guidelines and make sure children are well before sending them to school each morning. If there’s any doubt, the district says, keep them home.

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