On Monday, Jan. 11 Nome’s students headed back to school for in-person learning for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic closed the schools down on November 23, 2020. Nome’s active cases of Covid-19 virus infection had declined to one as of Friday, Jan. 8. So, the decision was made to bring the kids back to school. Four people in Nome tested positive over the weekend, bringing the total to five with the virus, but that did not affect the schools.  
“The word of the day is GREEN!” wrote Nome Schools Superintendent Jamie Burgess in an email announcing the reopening. “We are pleased to announce we will return to in person learning on Monday January 11. All COVID mitigation procedures are still in effect, so time to dig out and wash those masks!”
Monday morning a group of girls headed to Nome Elementary school waited in the dark at the bus stop at 3rd Ave. and Bering Street, with the temperature at 12°F. They reported it had been tough not being with friends over the past month and a half. Stephanie Payenna, a third grader, said she didn’t like doing the homework at home and she missed her teacher. Her sisters Brittany and Lizzie, both 4th graders, were also waiting for the bus. Lizzie said she was glad to be returning to school “to do math.”
“We also want to remind everyone that masks are required to ride the school buses, and that we no longer have disposable masks to give to students to ride on the buses; schools have washable masks for student use if needed available through the front office,” wrote Burgess.
With the schools open it was time to get back to sports. Boys and girls high school basketball both started on Tuesday, as did cheerleading. Middle School hoops and cheer were to start as well, but the dates hadn’t been announced.
“Statewide it starts today,” said varsity basketball coach Pat Callahan. “We decided that since this is our first day at school it would be nice to get the word out to the kids so we’re going to have our first day tomorrow, Tuesday.” How much have the players been able to play during the shutdown? “Normally we’d be opening the gym,” said Callahan. “But we can’t do that when the school is closed. There’s been some play at the Rec Center.”
The Nome Rec Center, which is not part of the Nome schools, is also opening up. The Bowling Alley and some classes are resuming. A quick look at scheduling on their website shows they are getting back to normal. The swimming pool remains closed.
The shutdown came in late November of 2020 when cases of COVID-19 began to rise rapidly in Nome. The district had been preparing for such a closure and when the time came the transition to home schooling was relatively trouble free. “Our highest priority is to keep our students safe, and we want to keep COVID-19 out of our schools,” wrote the district in announcing the closure. If cases of the virus began to rise again the schools will close.
“We hope this news brings everyone a little joy – we are doing a happy dance in anticipation of seeing our students soon!” wrote Superintendent Burgess.