The novel coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on global markets, mass gatherings, and international travel. Now, both Alaska and Norway have closed school for all students in a measure to prevent the spread of the virus through the Arctic. State officials in Alaska announced on Friday March 13 that public schools will be closed from March 16 to March 30. The State’s announcement came one day after University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen made the decision to end most in-person classes for the rest of the spring semester. The University of Alaska system serves more than 20,000 students with locations in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, and other rural communities. Hands-on learning like science labs will continue to be held in person with special permission, taking extreme caution with frequent cleaning and limiting contact.

Across the Atlantic, the Norwegian Government has introduced comprehensive measures to limit person-to-person spread of Covid-19. Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced at a press conference last Thursday that "All the country's kindergartens, schools, primary schools, secondary schools, technical colleges and universities are to be closed.” And on Monday, March 16 Finland announced it will be closing all schools except for kindergartens.

As more school are heeding the warnings of social distancing to prevent community spread, educators are taking their classes online and trying distance instruction for the first time. But in the Arctic where broadband is limited, virtual learning poses exceptional challenges.

[read full article by Victoria Herrmann at High North News]