ASD maintains protocol was followed in notifying others of student's return, coronavirus screening after visit to China

Two Iowans are receiving testing for novel coronavirus after they returned from China. This is according to the Iowa Dept. of Public Health. Officials say the two are under voluntary home confinement. (MGN Image)
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - As the Anchorage School District faces increased coronavirus concerns following the reentry of a student after a trip to China, a common frustration has come out among parents, and it isn't the child's return to the classroom.

"They did not inform us as parents or as a community that they intended to continue on this course of action," said Tom Norbert, a parent of a Mirror Lake Middle School student, "let alone take this course of action and put other peoples' lives at risk."

ASD Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop said on Wednesday that the district waited until it 'had enough information about the situation," and then took action. The principal at Mirror Lake Middle School sent an email out about what was going on earlier this week.

Bishop also said multiple times that the student would not have been allowed back at school if any questionable symptoms had been detected, or if officials felt there was any threat to the health of the student or others.

However, Erin Kettleson, an ASD parent whose daughter also attends Mirror Lake, said the process has been a frustrating one.

The notification from the district about the student who had returned from being abroad, "was very delayed," she said, "and tactfully worded due to them not being able to give out information.

"It was so vague, it left an extreme amount of concern," she added.

Alan Brown, ASD Communications Director, said late Thursday that while parents' concerns are not unexpected, the district had to do its due diligence in making sure all the information it put out was accurate and not inflammatory or fear-mongering.

"Once we found out the student was back and there were concerns amongst the community," he said, "(we) gathered as much information as we could, understanding that we had to make sure we're very deliberate and careful in assessing something like this."

Brown said officials "discussed at length" the recommendations and guidance from professionals within Anchorage and around the state as ASD sought a way forward. "We also spoke to the family, who is extremely cooperative.

"That took some time, obviously, to be deliberate and very clear," he said, "and that's what drove our desire to have the principal send a letter to the community. One, to try to dispel rumors in misinformation, and two, keep the community informed as we hope for a continuous dialogue."

The district has said it is in frequent contact with local and state officials, including the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the Centers for Disease Control.

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