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Unalaska School Board Adopts District's Reopening Plan

Laura Kraegel

The Unalaska School Board voted to adopt the school district's Smart Start 2020 Plan at its meeting Wednesday night.

The district will submit the plan to the state on August 7, and according to Unalaska City School District Superintendent John Conwell, officials with the Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) said they are hoping to return the plan with feedback within 24 hours.

After months of planning and revision, Unalaska's schools will reopen to students according to the criteria laid out in the plan. However, as Conwell noted, plans are subject to change, as this is a shifting situation—dependent on several  factors, including the city's coronavirus risk level. 

"It could change depending on the circumstances on the ground here," said Conwell. "Things can change any day and sometimes by the hour, but I feel good that we have the board's support with the plan that's been put together over the last several months." 

To help navigate that fluidity, the board decided to create a COVID-19 advisory committee, which will be made up of various stakeholders, including teachers, staff, students, administrators, and one board member.

The board also voted to revise its Pandemic and Epidemic Emergencies Policy, which was created in 2009 in response to the H1N1 pandemic. The revision would allow Conwell the authority to make certain decisions without prior approval from the board. 

"What the revision does is gives the superintendent some authority to make decisions based on changing circumstances, should the community shift into the high risk threshold," Conwell said. "That would give the superintendent the authority to move the district into home-based education without getting preauthorization from the board." 

Finally, board members adopted an administrative regulation regarding additional COVID-19-related employee leave. The regulation provides the school district guidance on how to administer that extra leave time. 

High School Principal Jim Wilson also said that the school will hold a cross country meeting Monday, August 10. While all travel for sporting events has been suspended, the district still plans to hold some intramural activities.


Hailing from Southwest Washington, Maggie moved to Unalaska in 2019. She's dabbled in independent print journalism in Oregon and completed her Master of Arts in English Studies at Western Washington University — where she also taught Rhetoric and Composition courses.
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