KETCHIKAN (KDN) — All three schools in the Craig City School District — Craig Elementary School, Craig Middle School and Craig High School —will shift to distance education on Friday due to confirmed COVID-19 cases in the district.

A Thursday afternoon statement to district staff and families from CCSD Superintendent Chris Reitan stated that "CCSD is also moving to distance education to support our local health providers who are currently overwhelmed and understaffed due to the tremendous increase of positive, confirmed COVID cases on the island."

Prior to the Thursday afternoon statement, only Craig Elementary School was set to be fully remote, with students at the middle and high schools levels who have been identified as close contacts learning remotely.

Friday will serve as a workday for teachers at the middle and high schools to prepare for distance learning, which will take place through Jan. 14, according to Reitan's statement.

Craig Elementary will begin distance learning on Friday.

"At this time we are anticipating students returning to in-person instruction on Monday, January 17, as long as they remain symptom free," the statement read.

"Our current COVID situation on POW and statewide is serious," Reitan wrote. "... Please, if anyone within your family exhibits any cold or flu like symptoms please keep them home and get them tested. This is a very serious time on the island."

Ketchikan High School update

In a Thursday afternoon statement to students and families, Ketchikan High School Principal Jason House announced "additional positive COVID cases impacting our school."

"Positive individuals have been identified and ordered to isolate," the statement read. "Contact tracing is ongoing and those individuals are being contacted as they are identified."

The school will not close in response to the cases, and Friday's schedule will not be affected.

"We ask students and families to please monitor symptoms closely and do not come to school if you are symptomatic," House wrote. "If you have any symptoms, even mild ones, isolate yourself and get tested."

The announcement of "additional cases" follows announcements by the school of other cases on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Schoenbar Middle School update

One positive COVID-19 case, "involving a member of the Schoenbar Middle School family" and announced in a social media update from the school on Thursday afternoon, will not affect Schoenbar's Friday learning schedule.

The case involves an individual who was last in school on Tuesday.

"Known close contacts from school have been contacted by SMS administration," the notice read.

Metlakatla update

The Annette Island Service Unit reported nine new cases in Metlakatla on Thursday evening, and the community's virus alert level held at Alert Level 2: Moderate, according to an announcement from the Metlakatla Indian Community.

A total of 41 cases were counted as active in Metlakatla on Thursday.

"This is possibly an inaccurate active case count due to home-test positives not being reported," the announcement noted.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 192 cases have been counted in Metlakatla, according to the MIC information.