Face Mask

Metro Creative

Covid-19 is spreading fast in public schools with classrooms, sports teams and at least one school mandating face masks, according to the virus dashboard of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District.

The district has recorded a record number of 257 virus cases so far this week, case numbers reported on the district website on Friday afternoon show.

Hutchison High School is under heightened protection protocols until Wednesday. Heightened protection protocols involve requiring face masks and regular Covid-19 surveillance testing, according to the district’s Maintaining In-Person Learning During Covid-19 plan, which was updated on Tuesday.

Four classes at Arctic Light Elementary School are on heightened protection protocols until Jan. 23, according to the district’s virus dashboard.

At the West Valley High School, the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams along with the cheerleading squad are on heightened protection protocols until Wednesday, according to the district’s virus dashboard.

At Lathrop High School, the girls’ and boys’ basketball teams are on heightened protection protocols until Wednesday.

The district’s Covid-19 dashboard also shows that two classes at Anne Wien Elementary School and one class at North Pole Elementary are on heightened protection protocols until Jan. 22.

Of 36 schools listed on the virus dashboard, 26 have at least one Covid-19 case reported over the last seven days. Ten schools have a seven-day case count in the double digits with the highest case numbers being reported for the high schools along with Anne Wien and Arctic Light elementary schools, which had 21 and 39 cases respectively as of Friday afternoon.

On Dec. 7, when Covid-19 was waning in Alaska, the Board of Education voted narrowly to make face coverings optional at public schools, in part because the Covid-19 vaccine is now available to people age 5 and older.

The week that started with Jan. 3, the first week back to school after winter break, 105 Covid-19 cases were reported for school district staff and students. Until last week, the highest weekly case count for the school district was 169 cases on the week of Aug. 30, according to school district data.

The highly-contagious Omicron variant is what appears to be driving the high case numbers.

Questions sent to the director of public relations for the school district about Covid-19 in the schools were not answered by press time.

Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 907-459-7545, at abohman@newsminer.com or follow her at twitter.com/FDNMborough.

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