PAINTING WEATHER – Downtown Sitka is pictured from the vantage point of commercial painter Keith Fredrickson’s 60-foot man lift today. Fredrickson Painting Inc. was taking advantage of the partly sunny weather to get a coat of paint on the Sitka Hotel, foreground, today. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Board Names Holst Interim School Chief

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

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, 2020, 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.

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– The Sitka Sentinel Staff


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Alaska COVID-19 
At a Glance

(updated 5-8-21)

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 11:50 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 114

Total statewide – 66,120

Total (cumulative) deaths – 343

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 1,508

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 – 7

Hospitalizations (cumulative) in Sitka – 5

Cumulative Sitka cases – 367 (321 resident; 46 non-resident)

Cumulative recovered – 359

Deceased (cumulative) – 1

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

• • •


Sitka Vax Stats 

The State of Alaska DHSS reported Thursday the following statistics on vaccinations for Sitka.

Partially vaccinated – 4,898 (70.469%)

Fully vaccinated – 4,486 (64.56%)

Total population (16+) –6,949

Sitka has vaccinated (with at least one dose) 1,249 (84.51%) of its senior population (1,478 total), age 65 and older. 

Vaccination data for the City and Borough of Sitka can be found online at:





May 2001

Richard Nelson, Alaska writer and cultural anthropologist, will be speaker at the University of Alaska Southeast, Sitka Campus, commencement exercises at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School

May 1971

The Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game announced today that the 100-ton herring quota in District 13, outside of the Sitka Sound area, has been harvested. The 750-ton quota for Sitka Sound was taken by April 7.