School Board to approve Smart Start Plan and Change to First Day of School in August

News Release: KPBSD Smart Start 2020
How will COVID19 risk levels Affect K-12 Education and the first day of school for students in KPBSD?

During their Monday, July 13, 2020 meeting at 6:00 PM, the KPBSD Board of Education will take action to approve the KPBSD COVID19 Smart Start 2020 plan, and change the first day of school for students to Monday, August 24, 2020.

Smart Start 2020

Preparations for the safe and prudent reopening of schools in August 2020 has been ongoing for two months. Twenty members of the KPBSD 2020 Smart Start Work Group designed the KPBSD plan to address how K-12 education and activities in our diverse schools will take place depending on low (green), medium (yellow), or high (red) risk COVID19 community transmission scenarios. The KPBSD plan will continue to be revised as medical information, science, and the pandemic situation evolves throughout the 2020-2021 school year. The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development requires all school districts to submit their plan by July 31, 2020.
The recommended action for the Board of Education is to approve the KPBSD plan. After approval, on July 14, 2020, the plan will be available at the KPBSD Smart Start webpage. You can view the document now in BoardDocs.

Delay first day of school for students by four days
School would begin Monday, August 24, 2020 for students

Changing the first day of school for students to August 24, 2020, will provide four additional critical in-service workdays for staff. COVID19 brings a significant number of extra health and safety measures, instructional options for parents and guardians, school routine shifts, schedules, and operational procedures. These four additional in-service and staff workdays will ensure a smooth and safe startup of schools during the COVID19 pandemic.
The recommended action for the Board of Education is to change to first day of school for students from the original date of Tuesday August 18, to Monday August 24, 2020.

6:00 PM, Monday, July 13, 2020, Board of Education meeting

The Board of Education will hold a virtual and telephonic meeting in the Betty J. Glick Assembly Chambers, George A. Navarre Administration Building, in Soldotna. However, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and CDC recommendations, this meeting will not be physically open to the public. However, the meeting will remain public.

The public is invited to listen and participate by calling the following toll-free number on July 13 at 6:00 p.m.:

  • (877) 853-5257
  • Conference ID: 708 024 188
  • When prompted for an Attendee ID, press #

The meeting will be broadcast live on the district website.

Anyone can submit comments that will be read during the meeting. Email them to Lisa Gabriel by 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 9, 2020

To pre-register to testify telephonically (optional) or for technical difficulties or questions, contact Lisa Gabriel at 907-714-8836, Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.



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June 29, 2020 KPBSD Update

KPBSD Sports & Activities webpage

There is a new opponent on the Kenai Peninsula—meet COVID-19, who changed the game plan and conditions for summer activities and play in KPBSD schools. Several schools have plans approved now, and youth are practicing. Read the “Playing Safely” Peninsula Clarion June 18, 2020 article. Pools at Skyview Middle School and Kenai Central High School are reopening.

You can learn more at the KPBSD Sports and Activities COVID-19 webpage, and read a letter to students, families, and staff about summer activities.

Everyone needs to be a superhero and do their part so that schools open to students. Make sure to wash your hands, watch your 6’ feet, and wear a mask when appropriate. In a pandemic, personal choices count and it will take teamwork from all of us to keep positive COVID counts down, summer sports happening, and schools to open to students in August.

Helpful Resources

August SmartStart 2020

As preparations continue for the reopening of schools in August, you can count on parental choice, consistency and continuity, and symptom free schools. During the July 13, 2020 Board of Education meeting, the SmartStart 2020 plan will be shared, then posted online that week. The KPBSD planning committee of district leadership, administrators, and others are working diligently. We will meet with the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the Department of Education and Early Development in early July to define updated risk determinations in order to keep schools open to students and staff. More details will be available to respond to your questions in mid-July. Thank you for your patience!

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KPBSD Summer Sports & Activities Game Plan

KPBSD Sports & Activities webpage

Dear KPBSD students, parents, and staff,

KPBSD is dedicated to the continuation of our various athletic programs for the physical and mental well-being of our students. We are mindful of the risks associated with these events to take place and are taking necessary steps to create as safe an environment as possible for student athletes, coaches, officials, organizers, and spectators. Therefore, additional requirements are in place as summer sports and activities resume in June.

We are working closely with local and state agencies, ASAA, and reviewing the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), to create standards and expectations to help lower the risk of COVID-19 exposure. We will implement safety measures during summer practices, camps, and conditioning that will make these sporting events safer for everyone. 

Some of the COVID-19 safety measures include requiring participants to sign in when they arrive at each session, take a temperature check, and to respond COVID-19 related symptom questions. Students are asked to follow their coaches or school guidelines, dress appropriately for their activity, bring their own water bottle, and cloth face covering that can be worn outside of practice. Our actions now will slow the community spread of COVID-19, and allow schools and sports to remain open.

We encourage every family to consider the risks to participate in sports and activities during a pandemic, and make the decision that is best for their family. Due to the risks associated with playing sports during the COVID-19 pandemic, KPBSD will require each family of a student athlete, as well as anyone participating in the sporting event, to sign an acknowledgement of the risks and a waiver of liability. This form is designed to assess certain risk factors, highlight the dangers of participating in sports, and ask that each participant not hold KPBSD liable for any harm that may result if a student athlete or participant contracts COVID-19. Make sure to read the sports waiver before you sign, as you will be giving up important legal rights.

We strive to continue our sports programs to the fullest extent practical and intend to take responsible measures to promote the safety of all participants, coaches, staff, and supporting families. KPBSD will monitor community spread of COVID-19, low-medium-high risk in our diverse communities, and potentially make updates as state health mandates and guidance updates are available. You can always find information on our new dedicated KPBSD Sports and Activities webpage.

Kind Regards,
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District

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Planning summer travel, and COVID-19 testing or self-quarantine health mandates

KPBSD All Staff Communication

Hello! This summer, many of us will travel within our great state, and out of state. While health guidelines and mandates do change, these may be helpful travel related resources for you:

State of Alaska Travel information and declaration forms:

Online Link to Travel Graphic

Current State of Alaska Health Mandates including two notes of interest:

  • Health Mandate 010: Interstate and International Travel
    • note: As of June 28, 2020, Alaskans returning to the state from a trip five days or less are not required to take a test before departing, and can upon return, take a COVID test at the airport, and quarantine until receiving a negative result. Plus, “The resident will receive a voucher for a second test that must occur within 7-14 days after arrival, and should minimize interactions until the results from the second test shows the resident is negative for COVID-19.” Alternately, if no test is taken upon return, Alaskans must quarantine 14 days. Details about this option are on the State Travel webpage, in the Travel Declaration Form options.

  • Health Mandate 018: Intrastate Travel
    • note: “Intrastate Travel Between Communities Located Off The Road System or The Marine Highway System Is Permitted, but subject to local travel restrictions.”

Tip: Follow the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) on Facebook, Instagram, and twitter for their informational posts and updates.

As our KPBSD SmartStart 2020 plans for reopening schools in August comes together, you will definitely receive more information later in July. Meanwhile, may your Fourth of July be safe and restful, while doing your part to keep community spread of COVID at bay, so we can open schools—and children and staff can be in buildings! | Twitter @KPBSD | Facebook KPBSD

KPBSD will inspire all learners to pursue their dreams in a rigorous, relevant and responsive environment.

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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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Chris Brown, 2020 Principal of the Year in AASSP Region III, personifies flexibility

Soldotna, June 11, 2020—Rising like a Phoenix, Chris Brown consistently greets his own inquisitive single-digit age children with delight. At Homer Flex High School, his smile and twinkling eyes offer a welcoming presence to each teen who walks through the door and pauses to remove shoes in the foyer to enter a new day of learning. Principal Brown says, “They are genuinely excited to be here and a part of our community. They show up having overcome obstacles and barriers beyond anything I have experienced.”  

Students at “Flex” awaken to personal responsibility, and land into a sense of family and belonging supported by Principal Brown and the Homer Flex team. Restorative practices, social and emotional learning, teacher support, and group time accompany their academics to graduation. School becomes a classroom for life.

Named the 2020 Region III Principal of the Year, the Association of Secondary School Principals (AASSP) recognize Brown for his pivotal role in student success. He stepped into leadership at Flex five years ago, following five years of teaching in the school. He focuses on professional development opportunities to keep staff engaged—and his attention to staff needs and policy changes equates to an impressive 100 percent staff retention spanning more than four years.

“Homer Flex High School respects student choice to live an adult life; therefore, we require that they accept the responsibilities required to be a successful adult,” says Brown. “It is our mission to facilitate students’ academic, vocational, and social and emotional skills toward success in their postsecondary lives. We encourage self-motivation and self-direction, respect for self, respect for others, and respect for the world in which we live.”

Principal Brown worked with the National Council and the Southern Kenai Peninsula Resiliency Coalition to implement Trauma Informed Practices in school, and is a strong advocate for small schools and underserved populations. He focuses on incorporating and prioritizing mental health in schools and is a Youth Mental Health First Aid trainer.

He is instrumental in introducing Restorative Practices to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, and Superintendent John O’Brien says, “I applaud the leadership Principal Brown has shown in the area of restorative justice—his leadership has positively transformed the culture of Homer Flex. He is the epitome of a student centered educational leader and a tireless advocate for his students. Regional Principals of The Year are eligible to be in the running for the statewide Alaska Principal of The Year, and I wholeheartedly hope this additional recognition is awarded to Principal Brown—he would be an excellent choice.”

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Ms. Margaret Griffin awarded Golden Apple

Ms. Margaret Griffin, Soldotna High School
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
Golden Apple Award | June 1, 2020

Ms. Margaret Griffin has been working in the education field for twenty-four years. She began teaching English, then earned her Master of Arts degree in School Counseling, moved to Soldotna, Alaska, and has been a school counselor for seventeen years, twelve of which were in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.

“Margaret is one of the hardest working, most capable people that I have ever met. Her ability to pay attention to details, plan college and career trips, and parent nights is unbelievable. She has worked diligently to utilize different social media and advertising to get the word out about the events the Soldotna High School Counseling Department hosts. She managed to advertise our Postsecondary Planning night so well, that we had over 130 people in attendance. Her work ethic shines through on every task she takes on. She works through schedule changes until 11:00 p.m. at night, ensuring all of her students have schedules that work for them. On weekends, she can be found writing letters of recommendation, and making sure all the tasks are ready for the upcoming week. The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) established RAMP to promote exemplary school counseling programs—and Margaret was instrumental for Soldotna High School to receive the national RAMP award! She put in 80 plus hours outside of data collection at school in order to create the RAMP application, awarded to Soldotna High School in 2018. She planned the schedule to work towards RAMP, and without her hard work and push to make Soldotna High School a nationally Recognized ASCA Model Program, it would not have happened.”

–Megan Murphy, Golden Apple nominator

Besides her incredible work ethic, Margaret is described as an incredible advocate for staff, students and parents. Nominator Megan Murphy writes, “I have witnessed Margaret take at risk students shopping to Fred Meyers to let them get needed items. Her advocacy extends to parents, staff, and students. She is someone the staff feels comfortable coming to with information they are not comfortable handling, or something they want to vent or share with her. Margaret knows how to listen and hear all sides. She is never someone to jump to a conclusion or make a judgement based on what she hears. When we debrief, her continual ability to talk through situations and see the whole picture is amazing. She provides a whole world sense when she talks with students, parents, and staff. She is able to talk to people where they are at in their lives, without making judgement, and provide support. Not every school counselor has this ability, and it is inspiring how much support and advocacy Margaret can provide, in such a well­ rounded manner.”

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education is proud to recognize Ms. Margaret Griffin for her dedication to the students of the school district, past, present, and future.

Mrs. Sharon Hale awarded Golden Apple

Mrs. Sharon Hale, Redoubt Elementary School
Golden Apple Award | June 1, 2020
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District

“Mrs. Sharon Hale is an incomparable human who goes beyond her duties as if there were no other option,” said nominator Stephanie Belger. “She is the librarian aide at Redoubt Elementary, and the whole community knows her as much more. My own children remember Mrs. Hale as the one who ‘always made us tie our shoes and dresses up as Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat.’ She is known for many activities in our school that are developed, continued, and spearheaded by her. A part-time employee, she is constantly seen working over than weekend and later than many other staff because she cares about our school. She helps children connect with books so they can learn to love reading. She encourages every aspect of reading support—even with the teachers!”

Throughout the years Mrs. Hale has run the Scholastic Book Fair, the Sunshine Committee, the annual Walk Your Child to School activity, the school-wide fundraiser, the math and science night, family night activities throughout the year, the bike rodeo, and the Dr. Seuss and Love of Reading month.

This all is a tremendous feat but it is still shy of the whole picture. She reaches out to peers, students, and the community with even more passion. Mrs. Hale can always be found giving individuals what they need before they even know what they need! At every staff departure there is a special Mrs. Hale handmade gift. In addition, there is always one for new coming baby “Roadrunners” as well. She never misses an opportunity to help students with Forensics, Geo-Bee, Spelling Bee, and is known to spot children with books, games, and anything that will encourage them out of her own pocket. She is a substitute and jumps in for the other half of the day as much as possible when teachers are in need at a moment’s notice. Mrs. Hale loves helping others, even to helping student learn how to sew in Friday electives. Students can learn this wonderful trade and, staff call upon her on weekends to help with t-shirt quilts. She immediately gives of her time to assist with all the knowledge she has, and with her presence. Her outreach to the community is also long lasting. She has given decades to the CES fire family as a wife to a fire chief, stiches of love community projects, and Oiler’s baseball.

Mrs. Sharon Hale has been working in our school district since 1997, however she began volunteering at Redoubt Elementary in 1991. She has impacted the Redoubt community officially for 23 years and unofficially for 29. By the count, she has positively supported over thirteen thousand students, hundreds of teachers, and several administrators. Her leadership, service, and remarkable contributions to everyone will forever be remembered. In the words of the current administrator, Principal Bill Withrow, “When you look at the heartbeat and pulse of our school, Sharon Hale’s name is in all of it.”

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education is proud to recognize Mrs. Sharon Hale for her dedication to the students of the school district, past, present, and future.

Volunteer Red Asselin Martin awarded Golden Apple

Volunteer Red Asselin Martin receives Golden Apple award at Paul Banks Elementary during a Virtual Board of Education meeting

Ms. Red Asselin Martin, Paul Banks Elementary volunteer
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
Golden Apple Award | June 1, 2020

“As the principal of Paul Banks Elementary in Homer, Alaska, I have witnessed firsthand the incredible resource that “Red” or Ms. Lisa Asselin Martin is for our school,” wrote nominator Eric Pederson. “She is a parent, the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) president, Sprout partner, and community advocate, and emulates all of the qualities the Golden Apple award represents. In the three years I have worked with her, she has gone from active parent to school leader.”

–Nominator Eric Pederson, Paul Banks Elementary principal

Paul Banks Elementary has numerous activities throughout the school year such as fundraisers, movie nights, Bingo for Books, and the Scholastic Book Fair, and it does not take long to notice that Red is behind many of them. As the PTA president, she saw a need for afterschool childcare when we moved to an early start and dismissal—so she created our afterschool program. All kindergarten to second grade students are invited to participate, including our students with special needs. Because of her leadership and skill in recruiting community members to teach, students have been able to choose from a variety of activities, including sign language, Japanese, Legos, Zumba, Outdoor Explorers, and Sports Hour.

During the potential KPBSD staff strike last fall, Red assembled pop-up childcare for working parents, utilizing volunteers and church space, and coordinated with other schools. As a Birth to Three Sprout staff member, she collaborated with Paul Banks Elementary to provide a weekly open gym playgroup for children ages one to four. This has allowed many of our young students to arrive already being familiar with our school. Red teaches parenting classes open to the whole community that benefits our families.

Recently, Red organized and facilitated a State Education Budget 101 for our entire community. The event brought people from opposing fiscal viewpoints together where factual data was shared and everyone had a great discussion.

The Paul Banks Elementary staff shared the following descriptors for Red: “persistent, thoughtful, caring, persistent, compassionate, gracious, persistent, hilarious, approachable, supportive and PERSISTENT.” Principal Eric Pederson wrote, “Red is one of those parents who has made me a better and more thoughtful person and leader. Her support, innovation, and contribution to our school community will be dearly missed at Paul Banks Elementary when her child moves to West Homer Elementary for the August 2020 school year.”

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education is proud to recognize Ms. Red Asselin Martin for her dedication to the students of the school district, past, present, and future.

Volunteer Red Asselin Martin receives Golden Apple award at Paul Banks Elementary during a Virtual Board of Education meeting

KPBSD 6.3.20 update: Survey | Strength | Safety

Q: What did you–youth and parents or guardians–experience during remote learning?

A: Tell KPBSD in a simple SURVEY for students, parents & guardians

How did the March to May remote learning work for you and your family? Your response will help KPBSD plan for a Smart Start for school in August. Our 20 person planning team is meeting several times a week, and you’ll hear more about that throughout June and July.
Your thoughts will assist: we’re at 1,400+ responses & the goal is 5,000+ by June 8, 2020. Kindly invest a few minutes to respond:

Sources of Strength Family Toolkit

Take a deep breath! We all have strengths, and your social and emotional health is important. Download a wonderful booklet with activities and resources for all ages. #WhatHelpsUs #KPBSDstrong

Safety: Create your COVID-19 Family Plan

Have you made your plan for what will happen if the caregiver or caregivers in the family become ill with COVID-19? Who is in your Circle Of Support? Download a helpful three-page resource to create or refine your plan.

Connect with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District throughout the summer. Call during office hours 907-714-8888. Visit the website for online registration, and regular updates about COVID-19, and the KPBSD planning and response.