Radios helped keep Toksook Bay connected during quarantine. Photo courtesy ShoreZone.
When school in the western Alaska village of Toksook Bay transitioned to distance learning in March 2020, principal Michael Robbins says it became difficult to communicate with the community of about 600 residents. Facebook was the best tool available, but that required stable internet and technology that not everyone had available. So, with about $1,500 in grant money, Robbins purchased radios for every household in town and equipment for broadcasting from the school. “We thought this would be a more equitable way,” he says.
The school used the radio to broadcast meetings, traditional Yugtun stories, and teach students how to conduct interviews. “You can see the confidence even in our little third graders when they get [an interview] done and hear it on the radio,” Robbins says.
When the COVID-19 pandemic is a thing of the past, Robbins says the radios will still be useful for broadcasting sporting events, making community announcements, and promoting student work throughout Toksook Bay.