APRIL SNOW SHOWERS – Pam Young shovels snow from in front of Harry Race Pharmacy this morning. The city measured 1.5 inches of snow this morning at 10 a.m. More snow and low overnight temperatures of 28 degrees are forecast for both tonight and Saturday night. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Board Names Holst Interim School Chief

By GARLAND KENNEDY
Sentinel Staff Writer

The Sitka School Board has named former school superintendent John Holst to be interim superintendent after Mary Wegner steps down June 30.

The appointment of Holst was announced at the board’s Wednesday meeting, which was held by teleconference.

“With his extensive experience in various permanent and interim superintendent positions, we feel that he also clearly recognizes that he will be working for the board, and we as a board remain firmly committed to the goals we have established,” board president Elias Erickson said.

John Holst (Sentinel file photo)

Holst will hold the position through the end of the 2020-2021 school year, while the board continues its search for a permanent superintendent. Wegner plans to take up a position at the University of Alaska Southeast Juneau this summer.

Holst told the Sentinel that he has been involved in education since before he arrived in Ketchikan from Wisconsin in 1980.

He was the Sitka School District superintendent from 1993 to 2001.

What’s his goal for his next round of managing the school district?

“Leave it better than I found it,” he said.

Since he left the post in 2001, he has worked as an education consultant at locations from Sitka to the Yukon, often mentoring new superintendents.

“I want to help the board and whoever comes in as the new superintendent in a year,” Holst said. “I want to help set up success.”

In addition to announcing Holst as interim superintendent, the board discussed measures taken to continue providing education, and meals, to students during COVID-related school closures.

For two weeks, the school district has distributed free “grab-and-go” meals in the Sitka High parking lot from 8 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Wegner described the effort as “Herculean.”

“It was amazing what they made happen,” she said.

And with distance learning underway for two weeks, Sitka High Principal Laura Rogers said that only five of her 307 students had not been contacted, and that her staff had distributed 84 laptops to students who needed them.

“Every kid had just been saying ‘I just wish we could have normal school,’” Rogers told the board.

A summary of the remote learning plan for each local school is available at sitkaschools.org.

The district now relies on the video conference service Zoom for synchronous learning and office hours. Microsoft Teams serves as a basis for an asynchronous learning.

Despite challenges revolving around shifting an entire curriculum in a single week, Wegner praised the ability of staff and students to find solutions.

“It has been so fabulous to see how, in the matter of a week, we have put together really meaningful remote learning opportunities for our students and their families,” the superintendent said.

She also lauded the Lady Wolves’ basketball and Sitka Cheer squads for taking the Region V title last month in Juneau.

The Region V tourney was the last athletic event for Sitka High students for the academic year. Days later, the Alaska School Activities Association canceled the state tournament, which had been set for the end of March in Anchorage.

Rogers described the Region V tournament as “the end of normalcy.”

Distance learning will continue in Alaska, as mandated by the governor, until at least May 1.

 

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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 4-9-21)

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 11:20 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 241

Total statewide – 62,161

Total (cumulative) deaths – 309

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 1,388

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

The City of Sitka posted the following update on COVID-19 cases in Sitka as of 5 p.m. Thursday.

Active cases in Sitka – 8

Hospitalizations (cumulative) in Sitka – 5

Cumulative Sitka cases – 348 (309 resident; 39 non-resident)

Cumulative recovered – 340

Deceased (cumulative) – 1

The local case data are from the City of Sitka website.

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Sitka Vax Stats 

The City of Sitka posted the following update on vaccinations in Sitka as of Friday.

Partially vaccinated – 4,564 (65.85%)

Fully vaccinated – 4,070 (58.72%)

Total population (16+) –6,931

Sitka has vaccinated 1,215 (89.5%) of its senior population (1,358 total), age 65 and older. 

Vaccination data are for the City and Borough of Sitka. The data are updated weekly on Sitka’s COVID-19 Dashboard at: bit.ly/SitkaDashboard. 

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20 YEARS AGO
April 2001

Photo caption: Karl Johnson, Gege Dimond, Dolly Garza, Sheryl Parsons, Joy Light and Teri Rofkar cast off in a traditional Tlingit canoe at Sealing Cove Sunday. They were practicing paddling techniques for the traditional carved canoe race to be held this weekend as part of the communitywide celebration “One Nation Working Together.”

50 YEARS AGO
April 1971

Meeting notices: The Sitka Roadters car club will meet Sunday at Don’s Crescent Service. ... Southeast Alaska Trollers Assoc. will hold their monthly meeting Sunday  at Blatchley Junior High. ... The Sitka Historical Society will meet Sunday at the Centennial Building. After a short meeting further work will be done on the society’s museum that’s being installed in the west wing of the building.

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