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canyons school district first day
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Canyons School District back in class

Back to school. Students excited to return to classes. Photo: Mary Richards, KSL NewsRadio

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah – 34,000 students returned to school in the Canyons School District on Monday, Utah’s 5th largest school district.

78% of the students are doing in-person instruction, and 22% online.

“We know it’s important to support students in getting back to learning, and supporting families in getting back to work,” Kristen Stewart associate director of communications for Canyons School District.

Getting back in class

“We also know families with health or safety concerns are not ready to be back in school.”

At Canyon View Elementary, the principal stood on the school roof with a megaphone as students were spaced out in their lines to go inside at 8:30.

The first day of school for the 2020-2021 school year. Photo: Mary Richards, KSL

Safety measures

The district spent $1 million dollars on personal protective equipment for schools, buses, staff, and students.

“Everyone will be wearing face coverings, employees and students will be physically distancing, lunches will be staggered,” said Stewart.

Between 9,000 and 10,000 Canyons students are riding the bus, which is less than last year. Transportation director Jeremy Wardle says they are staggering the kids in assigned seating, with siblings sitting together. Masks are required, and they have constant cleaning during the route and after with a deep-clean.

“Hospital-grade disinfectant that we spray through with an electro-static sprayer. It positively charges the ions, so it not just lays on top of the surface, but envelops the surface,” he said.

Stewart says the school day and routine will look different to accommodate physical distancing. And parents should make a new routine with their kids, by checking their symptoms every morning.

“If they have a temperature over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, they are to call the attendance secretary and not come into school that day. Then they need to contact their health care provider to talk about the next steps,” she said.

Then in the afternoon, Stewart says kids can put their face masks and clothes in the laundry when they get home.

The first day of school for the 2020-2021 school year. Photo: Mary Richards, KSL

Welcoming students back

The newly formed Brighton High School marching band played outside to welcome back students to school.

“Playing the fight song before school starts makes me know that we can do it, even though it will be a weird year for us. This is such a memorable thing to be doing,” said Hailey Timm.

“The energy is so great, and empowering and fun,” said the senior.

It’s the Bengals first year with a marching band, after working to get one for 3 years. Director of Bands Mikala Mortensen says they stay apart from each other and have low-contact.

“Even when we are outside, the kids are wearing masks. We are ordering specialized masks that will have a little opening for mouth pieces, and shields for the flute players,” she said.

Mortensen said it is empowering for the students to be able to do something they love.

“I noticed a huge difference when they came back, and how much they needed this,” said Mortensen.