ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The largest school district in Alaska to open for in-person classes has shifted to online learning only for three schools after five new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed.
The new infections emerged among three schools in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District, Alaska Public Media reported.
Colony middle and high schools plan distance learning until next Tuesday, while the district said an update is pending on how long Pioneer Peak Elementary will be closed to in-person classes.
The schools will be cleaned, and public health officials will notify any families with children who are considered close contacts of those who tested positive for COVID-19.
Another school, Wasilla's Machetanz Elementary, has resumed in-person learning after a student tested positive. District spokeswoman Jillian Morrissey said 36 people, including staff and students, were identified as close contacts in that case and are under quarantine.
She said the contact tracing investigation found another positive case, but it wasn't immediately clear if that involved a student or staff member.
Meanwhile, a second resident of a state-supported elder-living center in Anchorage who tested positive for COVID-19 has died, according to the Alaska health department.
The department announced in early August that three residents of the Anchorage Pioneer Home and one staff member had tested positive for COVID-19. By Monday, five staffers and 14 residents had tested positive. Three staffers have been released from isolation, while 10 residents have recovered, the department said in a news release.
Two residents with COVID-19 have died, including one announced Monday that health officials say happened recently. They did not provide further details.
Testing at the facility is occurring with varying frequency, based on whether there have been recent positive test results, the department said. Staff and residents in areas of the facility with recent positive cases are tested every three to four days, while those in areas with two weeks of negative results will have weekly testing, the department said.
When the first cases at the facility were announced, the department said residents who tested positive were placed into isolation and would have dedicated staffing as much as possible. It said the home has been closed to visitors since March.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and death.