KPBSD Smart Start 2020

Alaska Smart Start

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

For the past several weeks, a 20 person planning team is designing the safe start-up for school in August when we 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. 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 received our plans for review and feedback. I offer a special thanks to the hundreds of staff and thousands of families who participated in the survey’s 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

Smart Start for the 2020-2021 School Year

The KPBSD Board of Education approved the Smart Start Plan on July 13, 2020. This plan will continue to evolve with the primary goal that schools will safely open in August to welcome all children and staff into a new school year. The smart start plan includes parent choice between in-school-classroom learning, remote learning from neighborhood school, and Connections Homeschool options. Equitable educational support is core, and safety measures will be in place for the health and positive social-emotional learning during the ongoing global pandemic.

Planning background

Administrators and educators began working in May, following the 2020 Alaska Smart Start Restart & Reentry Framework for Alaska K-12 schools. Committees designed multiple components that relate to instruction and instructional support. Areas include health and safety, staffing, school schedules including flexible or alternative options, instruction, classroom design, assessment, transportation, logistics, etc. In the summer, several focus groups will meet that include our publics: parents, students, staff, community partners, municipalities. KPBSD will communicate regularly about progress with planning for the late August school start, and the Board of Education will receive updates during the July and August meetings.

Low-Medium-High COVID-19 Risk in Communities

KPBSD implemented an operational plan to indicate low, medium, or high risk of COVID-19 community transmission in a region or geographical area. Decisions are based on state data, and local current information from the DHSS and public health, and will be made daily, posted on the KPBSD website, and communicated to our families, staff, and publics when changes occur. A visual map of the Kenai Peninsula risk level in our 42 schools is in development, and will be live online in August. Additionally, you will find abundant resources posted about what you can expect when school begins, and what staff and students can do to be safe and healthy. The Symptom Free Protocol will continue to be in effect when school resumes.

[ updated: 7-16-20 ]