Dr. Randy Trani

Dr. Randy Trani. 

PALMER — The Mat-Su Borough School District announced the first positive case of COVID-19 found among members of a school community for the first time this week.

Colony High School identified a positive and will be closed to in-person instruction on Thursday. This is the second time Colony High School has closed due to positive cases. There have been 15 positive cases among students or staff at 11 different MSBSD schools to date.

“The case rate in the Valley and across the state is increasing so we sent out a reminder to staff yesterday both congratulating them on the work that they’ve done and encouraging them to redouble their efforts to stick to our mitigation plan,” said MSBSD Superintendent Dr. Randy Trani.

Colony High School, Palmer High School and Wasilla Middle School have all identified two positive cases within their schools, and this is the second time CHS will be shut down due to positives. Colony High School was open for more than a month between the last closure in late August and the positive announced on Wednesday. Colony Middle, Wasilla High, as well as Iditarod, Tanaina, Meadow Lakes, Butte and Cottonwood Creek elementary schools have all reported positive cases since the start of school. At the start of Wednesday’s school board meeting, Trani gave social distancing guidelines to those in attendance. Of the MSBSD’s 47 schools, 36 have not yet identified positive cases of COVID-19.

“I appreciate our audience how we’re all here and you are wearing your masks, especially with increased spread in our community it’s more important than ever that we follow these simple guidelines and keep the schools open,” said Trani.

As of Wednesday, 17,925 students have enrolled for classes at MSBSD schools. Of all MSBSD students, 11,943.5 are receiving instruction at school, accounting for just over two-thirds of all students. Of the 33 percent students receiving instruction partially or completely at home, 2,498.75 are at-home learners and 3,422.75 are taking correspondence classes.

“Our percentage of at school learners is increasing. In fact, we’ve had over 300 students come back to brick and mortar learning since Sept. 15. I think that that also is a testament to folks watching how we’ve handled it so far,” said Trani.

Schools in the MSBSD are averaging a new positive case an average of once every four days, said Trani. There were 116 new cases reported statewide on Wednesday with only one new case identified in the Mat-Su. Alaska now has had 9,861 total cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic with 8,878 of those among residents. The Mat-Su Borough was recently upgraded to an orange alert level with 96 cases over the last two weeks and an average of 8.43 cases per day over the last seven days. There have been a total of 702 cases identified in the Mat-Su with 685 of those coming from Mat-Su residents. There are currently 204 active cases including three nonresident cases. There have been 17 total nonresident cases in the Mat-Su. Trani presented a quote from a public health official during his Superintendent’s report.

“Based upon my observations of the staff’s adherence to mitigation procedures in the MSBSD, my professional opinion is that schools are one of the safest places in the Valley for our students.”

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