Masks and sanitizers at the entrance to a basketball game in Wrangell, 2021.
(Sage Smiley / KSTK)

Wrangell’s school district is working to transition its COVID-19 mitigation policy to one more generally focused on keeping illnesses out of schools. Superintendent Bill Burr went through policy changes with school board members at a January 16 meeting. 

“We want to protect our students from every illness, not just COVID-specific,” Burr explained. He says the district is still focused on keeping sickness out of schools – but it’s a new phase of the pandemic. 

One of the biggest changes was actually implemented last month, Burr says, but he highlighted the policy change again Monday: Wrangell student-athletes are no longer required to test before traveling to other communities for games

“We’re encouraging testing before travel,” Burr said, adding: “The CDC still recommends group travel. But we have gotten a good testing program. It is optional, we do have tests, and we still encourage people [to test].”

The schools’ revised mitigation plan still encourages masking when recovering from illnesses like COVID. 

The CDC recommends that anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 isolate for at least five days. If they’ve been fever-free for 24 hours, they can return to work or school but should wear a mask for the next five days. Health officials say anyone with the flu should stay home for 3 to 4 days after symptoms develop, or until 24 hours after their last fever, whichever comes later.

“[Masking when showing symptoms] is highly encouraged,” Burr explained, “And this doesn’t apply just to COVID symptoms. We do have a number of illnesses that have gone around. It’s not a requirement, but I just wanted to clarify that it’s still encouraged for the sake of our staff and other students.”

Masking in schools has been controversial throughout the pandemic. District officials pointed to mask rules as a factor in the major enrollment drop Wrangell saw during the 2020-2021 school year. 

Get in touch with KSTK at or (907) 874-2345.