KPBSD Smart Start plans for new school year

Work is underway for a smart start to the new school year

Soldotna, June 18, 2020—Superintendent John O’Brien assures parents, students, and communities that although it may be summer break, significant work is underway to plan for the August start of 42 schools, during a global pandemic.

Dear parents, students, staff, and Kenai Peninsula Borough communities:

A 20 person team has been designing the safe start-up plans for school in August when we will welcome all children and staff into the new 2020-2021 school year. Our sincere hope and planning goal is to open up all 42 schools for onsite and in-person teaching and learning.

The Alaska Departments of Education and Health and Social Services requested every school district in the state to develop alternative plans in the event it becomes necessary to provide for safe social distancing measures, or a more drastic return to remote learning if the COVID-19 virus makes a strong return in our communities. Part of the planning process includes how we will be able to accurately determine community and school risk levels, and our response. Information and guidance will come from both the state and public health. The risk levels and the implemented actions in KPBSD may include:

In a Green or Low Risk environment, school will open on a normal schedule, and be as typical as possible with increased health and hygiene measures in place

In a Yellow or Medium Risk environment, plans may require safe social distancing in schools and during bus transportation, smaller groupings of students, the possibility of wearing cloth face masks in some settings, and options for remote work or learning for higher risk students and staff

If we were experiencing community spread and transmission of the COVID-19 virus, this would trigger Red or High Risk plans to be implemented which will likely result in the closure of some schools, and the need to provide remote off site instruction in that region of the district

In July, the KPBSD Board of Education and the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development will receive our draft plans for final approval. I offer a special thanks to the hundreds of staff and thousands of families who participated in the survey that took place in May.

Our critical mission is to provide equitable educational support and opportunities for all students, all school year. For information and the latest updates about the KPBSD 2020 Smart Start team’s work, please frequently visit our KPBSD 2020 Smart Start web page at, or access it from the homepage.

Wishing you success and positive impact,
John O’Brien, Superintendent


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