From Sen. Bill Wielechowski <[email protected]>
Subject Back-to-School & Other Important Updates - August 19, 2020
Date August 19, 2020 10:10 PM
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August 19, 2020

Bill Wielechowski
State Capitol, Rm 9
Juneau, AK 99801
sen.bill.[email protected] [mailto:[email protected]]
1500 W Benson #315
Anchorage, AK 99503
Contact My Staff
Sonja Kawasaki
Chief of Staff
Office: 907-465-2435
[email protected]
Nate Graham
Legislative Aide
Office: 907-269-0120
[email protected]
Erik Gunderson
Legislative Aide
Office: 907-269-0120
[email protected]
Contact Alaska's Federal Delegation
Senator Lisa Murkowski
Phone: 907-271-3735
Website [[link removed]]
Senator Dan Sullivan
Phone: 907-271-5915
Website [[link removed]]
Representative Don Young
Phone: 907-271-5950
Website [[link removed]]
Contact the Governor
Governor Dunleavy's Anchorage office may be reached at 269-7450, or e-mail him
at [email protected] [[link removed]]
Visit the state website [[link removed]]

Dear Friends & Neighbors,
Summer is rapidly coming to an end and our K-12 children will start returning to
school this week. I wanted to give you a quick update on the Anchorage School District's
back-to-school plan, the latest on unemployment benefits in Alaska, a friendly reminder
to respond to the U.S. Census, an update on the AK CARES small business grants program,
and some information on voting in this year's General Election.
Back-to-School in Anchorage
Classes for the Anchorage School District (ASD) will begin tomorrow August 20th
and the school year will start completely online, but that may change throughout
the school year.
This year parents and students will have three different schooling options. The
first option is its traditional school, called ASD in School, which is starting
the year with online-only classes but may later switch to some in-person schooling.
The other options are ASD's home schools, Paideia, Frontier Charter School, and
Family Partnership Charter School. The final option is ASD's new online school,
ASD Virtual, which is similar to a home school program but keeps your child enrolled
in his or her neighborhood school.
ASD has created a risk assessment for returning to normal classroom instruction.
District administrators will be watching the average number of new cases per day
over a 14-day period to help track the risk of coronavirus spread. The low-risk
scenario means students would attend in-person classes, the high-risk scenario means
classes would be online only, and the medium-risk scenario mean a blend of online
and in-person classes.

This approach is different from last spring when the district had to switch to supplemental
online instruction in an emergency situation without much preparation time. Teacher
workgroups have been building courses over the summer to prepare for students this
ASD has announced that they will begin the school year in a high-risk category.
Face coverings will be required for all ASD students, staff, and visitors at all
schools and all administrative buildings. More information can be found by clicking
HERE. [[link removed]]
Students who are in need of a computer to start the school year virtually have the
option of using an ASD Chromebook. Internet access will be provided for families
in need. Please contact your child's school for more information.
I wish our children, their families, and the ASD teachers, staff, and administrators
all the best as you navigate this new way of life toward students' best educational
experiences possible under these unusual and unprecedented times.
Responding to the U.S. Census
The census is required by the U.S. Constitution to be conducted every 10 years and
is used to determine how much federal funds states get, election district sizes,
and more. The U.S. Census Bureau is currently gathering data for the 2020 census
and it's critical that every Alaskan be counted to ensure fair representation in
our elections and to bring in and allocate state and federal funds to benefit our
state and local communities. As of right now Alaska is last in the nation in responding,
and we stand to lose millions.
If you haven't responded, I urge you to do so right now. It only takes a few minutes
to complete. The census is safe and secure. The Census Bureau keeps your answers
confidential. And please encourage your friends and neighbors to respond!
You can do so:

* Online
* By Phone
* Or by Mail
Census Bureau workers can be expected to follow up with homes that have not completed
the census. They will follow up by email and in-person at the door and will be wearing
masks and socially distancing. If you'd like to avoid this, I strongly encourage
you to apply online, by phone, or by mail.
Participate in the 2020 Census HERE. [[link removed]]

Last weekend I celebrated Wild Alaska Salmon Day by fishing in Seward and was able
to land this beautiful King Salmon!

Changes to Unemployment Insurance Benefits
Until July 31st, Alaskans receiving unemployment insurance benefits received an
additional $600 per week of Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). After
FPUC expired, earlier this month President Trump signed an executive order authorizing
federal funding for $300 per week in an additional benefit, while giving the states
the option of providing an additional $100 per week, for a possible maximum of $400
per week per recipient.
Last week Governor Dunleavy announced he would authorize the $300 per week per recipient,
but not the additional $100 per week. In order to qualify for these new $300 per
week benefits, the Department of Labor states that applicants must have been receiving
at least $100 in unemployment benefits since the week ending August 1st. The Department
reports that the benefit will be paid retroactively to the date of the loss of FPUC.
If you have any issues or questions regarding your unemployment insurance benefits,
please do not hesitate to reach out to my office at 907-269-0120.

Last weekend I attended the Muldoon Farmers Market. The market is open each Saturday
from 9:30 am - 2:30 pm. Hope to see you at the next one!

Update on AK CARES Grant Program
Under the AK CARES program, the state planned to distribute about $290 million in
federal relief funds from the CARES Act to provide grants to Alaska's small businesses
hit by COVID-19. The state is still in the process of processing applications for
the funds and we have received calls and emails from our friends and neighbors with
concerns of difficulties and delays while applying for these grants through the
Credit Union 1 application process. We have shared these concerns with the administration,
and to address the backlog the state recently brought in the Alaska Industrial Development
and Export Authority (AIDEA) to help support this process along with 20 new state
employees and set up an online portal to speed up the application approvals and
disburse the funds.
Who is Eligible
Recent changes to AK CARES program eligibility now allow more businesses to receive
the grants.
Small businesses - including C-corps, S-corps, Partnerships, LLCs, Nonprofits (501(c)3,
501(c)6, and 501(c)19 organizations) and sole proprietorships - with operational
costs impacted by COVID-19 are currently eligible when meeting the following criteria:

* Business was based, licensed, and located in Alaska with an Employer Identification
Number (EIN);
* Business was licensed and established when the public health disaster emergency
declaration was issued by Governor Dunleavy on March 11, 2020;
* Business has, on average, 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees; and
* Business received a total of $5,000 or less from the U.S. Small Business
Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or the SBA Economic
Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL).
Alaska commercial fishing businesses with operational losses due to COVID-19 are
also eligible when having held and fished a Limited Entry Permit or Interim Use
Permit issued by the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commissioner (CFEC) and who meet
additional criteria of the program.

Additional eligibility requirements and restrictions for small businesses and commercial
fishing businesses and other information, including eligible expenses and how to
apply, may be found HERE. [[link removed]]

2020 State & Federal Elections
Yesterday was the final day to vote in Alaska's Primary Election, with traditional
polling locations open for in-person voting which closed at 8pm. Nearly 63,000 Alaskans
applied for an absentee ballot for the 2020 primaries. We now await the results
of tight races which will be determined by final tallies of absentee voting.
If you voted absentee in the primary, remember that you must request an absentee
ballot for the General Election as well. In Alaska you can request an absentee
ballot for any reason. I've heard from many of you about your concerns about the
potential for COVID-19 transmission at the polling locations. I understand your
concerns; during this time it's important for all of us to weigh the risks to our
health and the health of our families and loved ones.
If you're worried about voting in-person in the upcoming General Election, or for
any reason need or want to vote without doing so at the polls, I encourage you to
vote with an absentee ballot. For more voting information and to request an absentee
ballot for the November 3, 2020 General Election, where you will cast your vote
to elect your state legislators, U.S. congress members, as well as the President
and Vice President of the United States, please visit the Alaska Division of Elections
Website HERE. [[link removed]]
Absentee ballots must be postmarked on or before the General Election Day of November
3rd, but with recent concerns over a reduction in resources to the U.S. Postal Service,
it's also important that you order and return your absentee ballot as soon as possible
to ensure your vote is counted.
You can also drop your absentee ballot in a secure drop box located at the Anchorage
Division of Elections Office at 2525 Gambell Street prior to the close of polls
on November 3rd.
As always if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact my office
at 907-269-0120 or simply reply to this email.

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Sen. Bill Wielechowski | State Capitol | 4th Avenue & Main Street | Juneau | AK | 99801
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