NEW TRAIL – Asa Dow wears a mask as he cuts a branch placed at the exit of the new 907 single-track mountain bike trail loop off the Sitka Cross Trail to officially open the trail Monday afternoon. Dow was one of about a dozen volunteers who built the trail, the first of its type in Sitka. The single-lane trail is exclusively for bikers and runs south to north. The Sitka Cycling Club, which organized the construction, will be building a second bicycle trail off the Cross Trail. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

DISTANT LEARNING – Sitka Schools to Restart Classes

Sentinel Staff Writer

Sitka School District intends to publicize its distance learning plan later today, Superintendent Mary Wegner said. It will be in effect as long as the schools remain closed as a precaution against spread of the coronavirus.

Teachers will be devising their own instruction plans, which will rely heavily on computer communication, and Wegner said the school district will be loaning laptops to families that need them. Local communications companies ACS and GCI are offering free internet service to those in need for the time being.

The superintendent said families should expect to hear today about the precise methods of distance learning that are planned for their students. She noted that these methods will vary school to school, and even class to class.

“Schools are communicating very clearly with their families what their plans are,” Wegner said.

All Alaska schools will be shuttered until at least May 1 as ordered by Gov. Dunleavy. Sitka schools have been closed since March 13, the start of spring break. The mandated closures started March 23, making it necessary for the schools to develop distance learning plans. Sitka school staff have used the last week to plan for distance learning.

Remote learning is scheduled to begin in Sitka schools Monday.

Wegner praised school staff for their ability to deal with rapidly changing circumstances.

“Some of the things that I’m really excited about in our plan is that every school has really taken this remote learning to heart,” she said.

Specifically, Wegner said that schools will use Microsoft Teams and Zoom as remote learning platforms. 

Looking forward, Wegner identified some challenges that local students and schools will face.

“What is grading going to look like? Will we be able to hold a graduation?... How do we accurately record the learning that is happening?”

She noted that “most of the work is going to be asynchronous,” meaning that live communication will not be the norm. Wegner said this would reduce the time burden on families, especially those with multiple children.

Citing her doctoral studies in distance learning, Wegner said that the new environment will change classroom dynamics.

“When you’re in a face-to-face class… you take on a persona as a student, but when you’re online it’s all new. Everybody got the same playing field. There’s nobody who is sitting in the front of a class.”

Wegner noted that mental health counseling services will remain active during the school closures, albeit online.

The process of shifting to distance learning will be challenging, she said.

“We ask for patience; this is new to all of us,” she said.

School Board Meeting
The Sitka School Board met over video conference in executive session Thursday night, and decided to postpone the discussion on the search for an interim superintendent until 6:30 p.m. Monday.


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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 6-3-20)

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 11:10 a.m. Wednesday.

New cases as of Tuesday: 18

Total statewide – 505

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 47, and the cumulative number of deaths is 10.

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



Welcome to the Sitka Sentinel's web page. In order to make the Sentinel's news more easily available during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken down the paywall to access articles on this page. Just click on an article headline to read the story. 

March 23, 2020



For the duration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency declared by federal, state and local authorities, the Sentinel is taking additional measures to reduce virus exposure to its employees and contractors as well as to the public, while continuing to publish a daily news report for Sitka.

To the extent possible, Sentinel news and sales staff will be working from home. For the protection of our carriers, home delivery of the newspaper will be stopped effective Tuesday, March 24.

The Sentinel will continue to publish on its website sitkasentinel.com. Access to the website will be free to all users. The Sentinel will also produce a print edition Monday through Friday. It will be available to all readers without charge, at locations throughout town.

Initially, these locations are those where the Sentinel's newspaper vending machines are already in place. The coin mechanisms will be disabled or the doors removed to permit easy access. The Sentinel will work with the stores where the paper is usually sold, to designate a place inside or outside the store where the free edition can be made available.  

Home delivery subscriptions are on hold, and after the end of the disaster emergency, subscriptions will be extended at no charge for the number of days that there was no home delivery.

The Sentinel will make its print edition available to the public as early in the day as possible. with all personnel taking precautions to prevent spread of the virus.

The Sentinel is calling upon its customers to observe the COVID-19 emergency precautions already in place, particularly in maintaining a six-foot social distance from others at newspaper distribution sites.

Following is the statement issued by the Sentinel on March 16, stating the Sentinel's emergency procedures, which remain in effect.

The Sentinel office at 112 Barracks Street is closed to the public. We encourage people to use the phone, email or the U.S. Postal Service as much as possible.There is a slot in the front door of the office for ads, news items and payment checks. Emails may be sent to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the phone number is (907) 747-3219.                                                                          

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