Schools returned to in-person learning across the Bering Strait Region in mid-January.

With a number of teachers and families traveling during the holiday break, Nome Superintendent Jamie Burgess told listeners “we want to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to observe quarantine and that we actually have enough staff to hold school.”

Both teachers and parents have eagerly awaited the return to in-person instruction. Distance learning presented unique challenges and pressure points in Western Alaska.

With limited internet access, many teachers had to scrap and re-write lesson plans. New non-virtual lessons relied on written projects and activity sheets to complete from home. This meant teachers often had to work with students individually over the phone, repeating the lesson dozens of times instead of once to the entire class. Burgess said these issues “continue to highlight some of the inequities that exist here in our rural communities.”