Students in the Delta Junction area will return from spring break and go back into their classrooms today, despite the growing numbers of covid-positive cases in the community over the past two weeks.
Delta Junction health-care providers reported 37 cases of COVID-19 last week, up from the 25 the week before, according to local incident management team. That’s a lot of covid for a community of about 4,500 people – almost as much as the surge in November that led the Delta Greely School District to close down schools and send students home to learn online.
“We are concerned,” says Superintendent Shaun Streyle. “The numbers are spiking up, and they have in the last two weeks.”
Streyle says he and other district officials have been watching the numbers carefully, especially over the past week, while students were on spring break. He says they’ll continue tracking those numbers, and encouraging facemasks, social distancing and frequent handwashing in hopes those measures will help slow the growth in covid cases.
“We’re just going to monitor the situation for now, and wait and see,” he said in an interview last week. He affirmed Sunday that students will go back into classrooms when they return today.
Streyle says district officials are trying to balance concerns over the spread of covid with the strongly held desire by parents and others in town to keep the schools open.
“The community really wants their students in school. They really do,” he said. “And to be honest, even with this spike here, the opinions have remained that we need our students in school.”
The head administrator at a local clinic says staff there have definitely seen a spike in covid cases, but he uses a different term to describe the situation.
“I would call it another wave,” says Serge Domas, the Interior Alaska Medical Clinic’s business administrator. He said in an interview Friday that he‘s skeptical this month’s trend will reverse quickly.
“Well, I cannot predict,” he said. “I really hope that it would go down. But something tells me it might go on for another couple of weeks.”
But Domas says he’s hopeful that local availability of covid vacccinations and testing will prove him wrong. He urges members of the community to follow guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, that calls for getting the test as soon as possible if symptoms occur or if exposed to someone who’s tested positive. And to get vaccinations as soon as possible.
“I believe the CDC is doing a good job, monitoring and everything, I would definitely take their recommendations,” he said.
Fort Greely officials say the apparent community spread that’s fueled the increase of local covid cases convinced them to cancel a spring-break event they’d scheduled for this weekend off-post.
“Due to the rise in positive-case counts, we have made the unfortunate decision to cancel all of the upcoming MWR Spring Fling events outside the installation, at Quartz Lake,” Spokesperson Angela Glass said, referring to the post’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation program.
Glass says post officials also are stepping-up their calls for soldiers and civilians to take precautions to protect themselves, and the community, from the coronavirus.
“We are actively messaging the importance of social distancing, meticulous handwashing, and encouraging our personnel to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in response to the virus,” she said.
The Fort Greely Clinic offers tests and vaccines to those who qualify. In town, testing is available at both the Interior Alaska Medical Clinic and the Family Medical Center, as well as the local Public Health office, the Delta Junction Public Health Center. The Family Medical Center also offers vaccinations, as does the Public Health office.