McNeil Canyon will go remote on Monday due to COVID-19 case

This is the 3rd COVID-19 case associated with a southern peninsula school

McNeil Canyon Elementary will close to in-person learning and go completely remote starting Monday after a case of COVID-19 was identified in the school.

The school east of Homer announced the case and the transition to 100% remote learning in a post to the McNeil Canyon Elementary Facebook page on Sunday.

“We are sorry to confirm that Sunday we learned about a positive COVID-19 case at our school,” the post reads.

Contact tracing was taking place on Sunday, according to the announcement.

“Everyone identified as a close contact will be called personally as soon as possible,” the post reads.

Families were notified of the COVID-19 case and the move to remote learning by the school.

A longer announcement on the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District website explains that Principal Pete Swanson is currently away but is making plans to return to the school soon. Paul Banks Elementary School Principal Eric Pederson is assisting until Swanson returns.

The school district does not specify whether cases are in students or staff unless given permission to do so.

“Contact tracing is beginning, but without ample time to complete it immediately, and the potential that it affects the entire K-3rd grade classes, with positive cases trending upward, and out of an abundance of precaution, school will immediately change to 100% Remote Learning on Monday, October 12, 2020, and possibly longer,” the district announcement reads.

No students or teachers will be at the school on Monday. However, free “Get-It-And-Go” meals will be available on Monday for all McNeil students while 100% remote learning is in effect. Daily pickup for these meals is from noon to 12:30 p.m.

The announcement of this COVID-19 case comes on the heels of two Homer High School football coaches testing positive for COVID-19 last week. This is the third case of the illness associated with a school on the southern Kenai Peninsula.

Even with this new case in a school, the southern peninsula region of the school district remains in the low-risk level for community spread of COVID-19. The district uses a model based on the number of new cases within the last 14 days to determine risk levels to different regions of the district and to determine which mitigation measures to use — like closing down sports or moving schools to 100% remote learning.

The lower peninsula is at low risk with 9 new cases of COVID-19 over the last 14 days. The region is considered low risk if it has zero to 9 cases over a 14-day period. If the lower peninsula gets one more case over a 14-day period it will move up into medium risk.

Over the weekend, the state reported record numbers of new daily COVID-19 cases among Alaska residents, with a new record high of 248 resident cases on Sunday. One of the new cases reported Sunday is a Homer resident. The state also reported three new cases in Homer residents and two new cases in residents of Fritz Creek on Saturday.

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