NO MOORE CLINIC – Contractors from CBC Construction use an excavator to tear down the  Moore Clinic building this morning. The building, which was most recently owned by SEARHC, was built in the mid-1950s by Dr. Phil Moore. Moore was a pioneering orthopedic surgeon who came to Sitka after WWII to open a clinic to treat tuberculosis patients from around the state on Japonski Island using vacated Naval base buildings. He helped develop new treatments for TB which was devastating Native communities. That operation evolved into SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital. Moore also helped establish Sitka Community Hospital in the 1950s. The cleared clinic lot will likely be used for building housing by SEARHC. ( Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Sitka Schools Deal with New Challenges

Sentinel Staff Writer
    Alaskan schools will remain closed through May 1 out of concern for the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Dunleavy said in his eighth coronavirus Health Mandate Friday.
    “Public and private schools are closed to students through May 1, 2020. Students will receive instruction through distance delivery methods. All after-school activities will be suspended during this time,” the mandate reads.
    Previous announcements had already shuttered schools through March 30.
    School District Superintendent Mary Wegner told the Sentinel that school staff will use the current week to plan for distance learning.
    Wegner said a critical goal is “really partnering with families.”
    She said that a concrete distance learning should be in place and made public by Friday.
    “The biggest challenge in my mind is making sure we provide equity. Every student is going to have a different situation,” Wegner said over the phone.
    In addition, this morning was the start of the Sitka School District’s free “grab and go” breakfast and lunch program. Wegner said the program will continue as long as the schools are closed.
    “Students may pick up their meals at Sitka High School from 8 a.m. to noon,” the district website said. “All families with an economic need are encouraged to participate. All district students, and any additional youths under the age of 19 in the same household, can get meals. This includes children too young to be enrolled in school or who are enrolled in private school or another district, as long as an SSD student lives in the same household.”
    Anyone interested in and eligible for the meals program can sign up at, or by calling 907-747-8622.

TOP: AmeriCorps Volunteers and school meal program chef Jo Michalski watch cars arrive at Sitka High School this morning to pick up free lunch and breakfast bags. The Sitka School District is making the meals available to all students during the school closure. Students may pick up their meals 8 a.m.  to noon at Sitka High School. Pictured are, from left,  Lysette Kessler, Ashley Nessler, Michalski and Jamie Hovis. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

BOTTOM: AmeriCorps Volunteer Lysette Kessler holds up a thank-you note written by one of the students receiving bag meals. “Dear Makers, Thank You.”  (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

    Meals are served drive-up style, and the district has limited delivery capacity for those under quarantine or without transport.
    Wegner said that anyone under quarantine or with any health concerns should call the district office to arrange food delivery, rather than risking their health.
    The district also said the telecommunications companies GCI and ACS will provide free, entry-level internet plans through May 31, and also will upgrade pre-existing plans for free during the same period. Wegner added that the district is surveying families to find out who needs to check out a laptop to enable distance education.
    Across the bridge, Mt. Edgecumbe High has only three students remaining after the school’s nearly 400 students were ordered home, Superintendent Jannell Vanesse told the Sentinel. Those three have been unable to return home because poor weather grounded their flights.
    Vanesse emphasized that while the school buildings are shut, Mt. Edgecumbe plans to continue education.
    “We are continuing education…. We plan to contact kids in each class by Wednesday of this week. At last through email or by phone,” she said.
    But the Edgecumbe superintendent added that since many of her students have returned to their small villages, educational needs will vary.
    “We know there’s not going to be one size fits all. Our classes are going to be delivered in a variety of ways.”
    Vanesse said recent events shouldn’t prevent seniors from receiving their diplomas, but the prospects for a graduation ceremony remain uncertain.
    She said the effort of her staff, and the staffs of other boarding schools in Anchorage and Nome in the process of returning the students to their homes was tremendous.
    “I cannot be thankful enough for the people who helped us in the in-between,” she said. “It’s really humbling, the amount of support we have gotten.”
    Wegner hit a similar note.
    “I just would like to thank the community... and our staff, we have incredibly professional staff.”

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August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:


On March 30 the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

In appreciation for the willingness of our subscribers to pick up their daily paper at drop-off sites, the Sentinel was free to all readers, and subscriptions were extended without charge.

As of August 1 the Sentinel is once again charging for subscriptions, but the present method of having subscribers pick up their papers at designated sites will continue.

The expiration date of all subscriptions has been extended without charge for an additional four months.

We thank our readers for their support in these uncertain times, and especially those who paid for the paper despite the free offer.

We look forward to the time when we can safely resume home delivery.

To check on the expiration of your subscription or to make a payment please call 747-3219. The subscription email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We also will be mailing out reminder cards.

The single copy price is again 75 cents. The news racks do not require coins to open, but we ask that the 75 cents for a non-subscription single copy sale be paid with coins in the slot.

– The Sitka Sentinel Staff


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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 9-25-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 1:10 p.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 127

Total statewide – 7,254

Total (cumulative) deaths – 51

Active cases in Sitka – 20 (8 resident; 12 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 41 (37 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 277.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 




September 2000

School Superintendent John Holst, Police Chief Bill McLendon and Magistrate Bruce Horton are among panelist confirmed for a community forum on teen alcohol and drug use and the new random drug testing by police in the schools. Other panelists are to be Tribal Judge Ted Borbridge, Nancy Cavanaugh, R.N.,  Asst. District Atty. Kurt Twitty, Tami Young, Trevor Chapman and School Board member Carolyn Evans.

September 1970

Mark Spender, son of Dr. and Mrs. Ed Spencer, and David Bickar, son of Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Bickar, are among 14,750 high school seniors honored today be being named semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship competition.