SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert announced Thursday that the state will be taking preemptive public health measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19, especially in schools.
The recommendations also include guidelines for large gatherings, including churches, concerts and sporting events.
Preemptive Public Health Measures
Herbert announced a series of recommendations from the Utah Coronavirus Task Force, headed by Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox. He said he agreed with the task force’s recommendations, which he added were not made lightly.
“This is being done based on good science and what has been learned from other countries,” Herbert said.
“So far we have not seen any community spread of the virus,” he continued, saying that the decisions are based on the assumption that the virus will become more serious.
The recommendations of the task force apply to the next two weeks but could last for longer. They include:
- Limit mass gatherings to less than 100, including church meetings, concerts, and conferences. This does not apply to schools or businesses.
- Those over the age of 60 and those with compromised immune systems should avoid gatherings of more than 20 people.
- If you are sick, stay home. If you can work from home, do so.
- Local health departments are in charge of the assessments of local schools.
“I believe that these steps will significantly slow the spread of COVID-19 here in our state,” Herbert said. “We are hoping for the best, but we are preparing for the worst. It’s going to take all of us working together.”
In conjunction with the announcements made by the Governor and others, a number of schools across Utah made the decision to cancel classes and move to online instruction.
Sydnee Dickson, Utah State Superintendent of Public Instruction, says that the decision to cancel schools is not taken lightly and that as of now there are no plans to cancel K-12 schools statewide.
“Safety for the students and the adults who serve them is our highest priority,” Dickson said, adding that the decision to close K-12 schools would be a local one.
However, her office sent recommendations to all K-12 schools to cancel all out-of-state travel over the next two weeks. At that time, she added, they will re-evaluate the recommendation.
“Our situation is different than that of higher education. While many of our schools are able to implement distance learning through digital means, we’re not capable of a full state transition at this time,” she said.
However, digital or distance learning is something Dickson said the state board of education is currently working on.
Dickson says that another issue they are considering closely is the impact that sending students home will have on working parents.
Murray City School District
Officials announced the Murray district’s schools would be closed until further notice, beginning on Friday, March 13, 2020. In Murray, unlike other school districts, officials said they became aware of possible direct contact exposure to the virus within the district.
Utah Catholic Schools
Effective March 16th through March 31st, all Utah Catholic Schools will begin online classes. Each Catholic school in the state will reach out to parents directly with more information.
Along with school closure, effective March 13th through the 31st, all Catholic places of worship and religious education programs will be closed.
Brigham Young University
BYU announced that graduation-related activities this spring will be canceled. Additionally, all sporting events will be closed to the public. Classes are running as scheduled.
Effective immediately, all athletic events on BYU’s campus will be closed to the public. Only participants, coaches and essential staff will be allowed to attend. BYU Athletics will provide updates as more information becomes available. pic.twitter.com/2lSbpuWOWY
— BYU Cougars (@BYUCougars) March 12, 2020
Salt Lake Community College
SLCC will move all courses to online-only beginning on March 23 through the end of their semester on May 7.
At the direction of @GovHerbert, all SLCC courses will move to online delivery on March 23 through the end of the semester (May 7) to allow for increased social distancing in light of #COVID19. Please visit our SLCC Safe site for details and updates. https://t.co/6fNKphM9n3 pic.twitter.com/AEQpysa5sH
— Salt Lake CC (@SaltLakeCC) March 12, 2020
Southern Utah University
SUU will move all classes to online instruction starting on March 23 through April 23.
SUU announced that all classes will temporarily move from face-to-face courses to online instruction starting March 23 through April 23. For the most up-to-date information, visit https://t.co/oTjq7ILfDG @UtahCoronavirus pic.twitter.com/ZjWfqUNF7o
— Southern Utah University (@SUUtbirds) March 12, 2020
University of Utah
“The University of Utah will shift to all-online instruction beginning March 18 for the rest of the spring semester,” school officials said.
President Ruth Watkins said housing and food services will be available throughout the rest of the semester, but asked where possible for students traveling home for Spring Break to remain there for the rest of the semester.
The University of Utah will shift to all-online instruction beginning March 18 for the rest of the spring semester. Classes are cancelled Monday and Tuesday, March 16 and 17.
More information: https://t.co/ec9q5HZn74
— University of Utah (@UUtah) March 12, 2020
Utah State University
USU will move all courses online beginning March 18 and have canceled classes on from March 13-17. All campus activities are canceled.
NOTICE: Utah State University will move academic courses online on Wednesday, March 18. Classes on Friday, March 13 through Tuesday, March 17 will be cancelled to allow faculty members time to move their classes into the online learning environment. pic.twitter.com/nDxjb4WWul
— Utah State University (@USUAggies) March 12, 2020
Weber State University
Weber State is suspending classes from March 13-17 to allow staff time to prepare for online teaching. The school says that they will move all classes online beginning on March 18th for the rest of the semester. All other events will be canceled until March 30th.
In an effort to slow or prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and help protect the health and safety of our community, Weber State University is doing the following effective Friday, March 13: pic.twitter.com/rdEPuHZJzs
— Weber State University (@WeberStateU) March 12, 2020
The college will extend spring break through next week. After that, classes will be offered online for the rest of the semester.
Westminster classes are postponed and will resume remotely March 23 until at least March 27. All events on campus are canceled up until March 27. Read President Dobkin’s full message here: https://t.co/TdqwM36MQq pic.twitter.com/sduRJHKY2C
— Westminster College (@WestminsterSLC) March 12, 2020
How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus
COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:
- Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
- Don’t touch your face.
- Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
- If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
- Get a flu shot.
State of Utah: https://coronavirus.utah.gov/
Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707