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SLC School Board Member: vote to hold classes online was partly political

Salt Lake City School Board member Katherine Kennedy (Salt Lake School District)

KSL NewsRadio has obtained a letter from a Salt Lake City school board member, in which she appears to give a potentially political reason for keeping students at home. 

In the letter addressed to a parent voicing their concern over the Salt Lake City School District’s reopening plan, board member Katherine Kennedy said her decision to vote on postponing in-person classes was done, in part, for political reasons.

“Many of you have told me to read the CDC guidelines. I have read them. These are new CDC guidelines because our president did not like the original CDC guidelines. These new guidelines were not drafted by the CDC but by the Health and Human Services Department and were designed to put pressure on communities to open schools because President Trump believes it will help his campaign to do this. I will tell you that I don’t want him to win. There could be no worse outcome in November,” Kennedy wrote.


Earlier in the letter, Kennedy said she has appreciated the input from all of those who had reached out to her voicing their concerns saying she had, “consulted academic public health sites rather than government sites, because they seem less politicized.” 

“Many of you have asked me not to be ‘fear-based.’ I say loudly and clearly that I think it is okay to be afraid of the virus. The Virus is scary. Parents, students, and teachers are worried about the virus, and they have written to me about their concerns about what might happen to them if they catch it. 

“Usually, however, they are more worried about what might happen if they catch it and pass it to someone they love.”

Recently, Gov. Gary Herbert amended state COVID-19 guidelines to allow for the Salt Lake School District to hold in-person classes even though they are still in the “orange” threat level. 

In a 6-1 vote last week, the Salt Lake School board voted to both postpone the start of school to September 8 as well as move their entire curriculum online until Salt Lake County’s average positive test rate for COVID-19 drops below 5%.

After the vote, Interim Superintendent Larry Madden said, “Our goal is to maintain a balance between the health and safety of our students and an excellent education. The plan may be altered as health conditions change.”

Kennedy Responds

Kennedy tells KSL NewsRadio that her decision is solely based on the well-being of the children and not on her distaste for President Trump.

“I don’t think I [crossed a line],” Kennedy told Dave and Dujanovic.

“I wonder if people think that the United States has handled this epidemic, this pandemic, in a way that’s an example for the rest of the world. I’m worried about our kids.

“The United States has about 4.7 million cases [of COVID-19], out of the 18.7 million cases in the world. I’m worried about our kids and I’m worried about their parents and I’m worried about our teachers.”

Kennedy said that the guidelines released by the CDC aren’t a fit for the Salt Lake School District.

“I look at the decisions made by the Trump administration and his Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and wonder if those are good decisions that we’re making on behalf of our children in the Salt Lake City School District.”

Kennedy also said she wants kids to be back in the classroom and supports the plan detailed by Interim Superintendent Madden that would allow kids to physically return to school if the positive case counts in Salt Lake County drop below 5% and new case counts fall below 10 per 100,000 residents.

“We all want kids back in classrooms. Everyone does. Everyone knows that that’s best for kids. We also feel like it’s risky. We feel this virus is dangerous.”

Listen to the full conversation  


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