As schools in the central Kenai Peninsula start preparing for the Arctic Winter Games, motorists commuting to and from work will begin seeing an absence of the ubiquitous yellow school buses normally plying area roadways during morning and evening drive times.
Schools in Kenai, Soldotna, Sterling and Kasilof will send pupils home two hours early Thursday so classrooms can be set up as dormitories for visiting student athletes from the Arctic polar regions.
What that means, according to Kenai Peninsula Borough Schools Superintendent Donna Peterson, is students will be getting out anywhere from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. instead of 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Competitors will be billeted at Skyview, Soldotna and Kenai Central high, Soldotna and Kenai middle and Redoubt and Sears elementary schools.
Not included in the early closing are Nikiski schools, which will remain on regular school schedules.
Schools will be closed Friday and all next week, during the Games, so again, school buses normally stopping on central peninsula roadways to pick up and drop off children will be absent.
Monday through March 10 will be used as spring break for Kenai Peninsula schools, instead of the regular vernal respite, which comes in the third full week of March.
As for getting this Friday off, students will not be kept in school any longer this summer to make up for the extra day, partly because they attended classes on Presidents’ Day last week.
Peterson said school administrators looked at when regular testing fell during the school year and adjusted the school year accordingly, starting school on a Monday in August, rather than the customary Wednesday start.
The adjustment allowed for a Christmas holiday because Christmas Day was a Sunday, and allowed for taking this coming Friday off for the Games.
Following the Games break, school will restart two hours late on March 13, as well.
Due to extra traffic around the schools next week as athletes and visitors come and go, Peterson said parking will be at a premium and people’s patience will be appreciated.
“We’re really excited that several of our students will be taking part in the Games,” Peterson said Monday.
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