ASD cancels domestic travel through April amid virus fears

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The Anchorage School District has canceled school-sponsored domestic travel through April 2020 due to concern over the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

A Monday evening email to parents and staff said work-related non-essential travel for ASD employees would be canceled for the same timeframe. Travel within the state of Alaska is not affected, ASD Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop wrote.

"In traveling from Alaska, most flights connect through the major hubs of Seattle, Portland, and Chicago, which all have confirmed cases of COVID-19," Bishop wrote. "Many trips involve large gatherings of people from all over the world including sporting events, conferences, concerts, and tourist destinations."

A spokesperson for the district did not know how many students were affected by the change,b ut said there were more than 20 trips planned all over the U.S.

Last week, the District announced that it was canceling international travel in March and April. About 120 students and eight trips were affected by that decision.

Spring Break for ASD students begins this Friday.

The District has set up a page online devoted to information about the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19.

Bishop said she does not take the decision lightly. "This is hard business, and I am fully aware of how this impacts our students and our families. I am sorry for that."

Bishop said that in addition to preventing the spread of the virus to Anchorage students, staff and parents while traveling, another major risk in the quickly-changing situation would be for traveling students to get stuck outside of Alaska.

"We must also consider the possibility of our staff and students being isolated or quarantined outside of Alaska," Bishop wrote. "As we have seen recently, a lot can change in a day or two. The risk of becoming stuck without sufficient support is very real."

Bishop said the district is preparing and will update families later in the week with "tips on prevention and preparation up to and including school closure as a last resort."

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