Principal’s Corner

We promise to …

• Help our students increase their math performance 4% annually and their reading performance 3% annually,
• Treat all students with compassion, dignity, and respect so that at least 80% will continue schooling with GCSD, and
• Personalize instruction for each student based on assessment data.

January 9, 2021

Hello Everyone.

This is John Riddle, Principal of Boarding School Operations for GILA.  We would all like to wish you, your family, and your friends a Happy New Year!  We hope you’ve had a wonderful break so far and that you are staying safe as Covid-19 continues to spread in many areas throughout the state.

Alarming outbreaks of Covid-19 continue to occur in Alaska.  This is happening in some of the regions and villages we serve.  We continue to be extremely careful in our attempts to keep Covid-19 out of Galena.  On January 8th, Galena went into a “Shelter-in-Place” due to a travel related concern.  This was a prevention measure, not a response to any community spread.

We have been watching the numbers of Covid-19 cases across the state and regularly consult with our Chief Medical Authority as we make decisions which effect the safety of our students, their families, and all those here in Galena.

As a precautionary measure, we have put the following requirement in place:

  1. Each student is now required to be tested AND have a negative test result for Covid-19 before he or she may board the plane for the return trip to Galena.
  1. Information we have recently found regarding the testing conditions at a clinic near you is include at the end of this document.  We know that this information could change.
  1. We need for you to arrange for your student to be tested as close to their departure time as you can. But make sure to read carefully the specific information below.
  1. If you are in a village that has on-site testing ability, please try your best to schedule a test for 1/18/2021. 
  1. If you are in a village that has on-site testing ability, but is closed on 1/18/2021 for MLK day, please schedule the test for 1/15/2021.
  1. If you are in a clinic that does not have on-site testing abilities, please schedule your test for 1/11/2021 or 1/12/2021.  This will increase the chances that your send-out test results will return prior to your travel day.
  1. Remember, when you receive the documentation showing that you have tested and when you receive the results, you can take a picture of the documentation and text it to Mrs. Adrian Johnson.
  1. If, when you call to set up an appointment, you are told that the clinic only has antigen tests and no PCR tests—that’s fine.  Go ahead with the Antigen test.  For clinics that have the PCR test—you MUST take the PCR and not the Antigen.

  2. We know that approximately half of our returning students will only have access to tests that have to be sent out of town to be processed.  This is why it is so important for you to begin making calls on Monday morning, 1/11/21.  If your clinic is only able to offer a test which must be sent out for results, you will need to be tested early next week.

  3. Each student should be able to provide a negative covid-19 test before he or she boards an airplane.

  4. If you have done absolutely everything you can possibly do to get test results prior to flying and, due to circumstances over which you have absolutely no control, PLEASE—don’t think—“Well, I guess I can’t go back”—PLEASE contact Me (John Riddle) or Ben Blasco, our Director of Residence Life.  Ben and I (and the Superintendent of course) are the ONLY 2 people who can approve a student to travel without test results.

  5. The Covid-19 rates in Alaska have obviously risen substantially since this fall.   

While we know that the state and individual villages are making progress with the distribution of the vaccine, it’s easy to think we’re out of the woods.  It is very important for us to remember that this is absolutely not the case.  Again, alarming outbreaks continue to occur across Alaska.  I want to share an experience my family recently had.

Our daughter was set to graduate from college and her commencement was scheduled for December.  We checked each day to make sure everything was still moving forward.  We all bought tickets and arranged travel and work leave time as we prepared to head to Western Carolina University.  8 days before commencement it was cancelled due to Covid-19 numbers.

We are not cancelling in-person school and we’re not cancelling our plan to have our 1st semester students return.  A very few students who were first on our waitlist will be enrolled as well.  We have added this new requirement for the purpose of increasing safety and to ease the fears of parents and community members both inside and outside of Galena.

Other info:

  • The travel dates have been set and Adrian has already sent out this info.  IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS PLEASE REACH OUT TO ADRIAN—-656-7030
  • As a reminder:  Students and or their families MUST complete the Galena City travel form.  This will be sent to you on January 17th.  It’s all electronic so it should be coming as an email.  Please watch out for this on January, 17th.

Again, the situation with Covid-19 changes every day and this decision was JUST made.

If, even after having received a negative Covid-19 test result, your student is having symptoms of Covid-19, please, do not allow them to board the plane to Galena and consult your local health clinic immediately..

If you have any additional questions, please call:

Mrs. Adrian Johnson at 907-656-7030

If she cannot answer your question, she will direct you to me.

Again, I apologize, I know this was unexpected.

As always, we’re doing everything we can to keep everyone safe until we get a handle on the spread of Covid-19.

John Riddle
Principal of Boarding School Operations
907-656-2053 ext 108
656-7193 (cell)