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Live Mic: Keep your sick kids at home, Granite School District asks

Granite School District Director of Communications Ben Horsley told KSL Newsradio's Dave & Dujanovic that the district is planning on opening a medical center that will be free for its teachers. He also asked that parents keep their sick kid at home. (Photo: Kristin Murphy / Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Kids have come back to school — and are bringing COVID-19 with them, says a spokesman with the Granite School District, who asks parents to please keep their sick kids at home.

Ben Horsley joined KSL NewsRadio’s Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry to explain the district’s concerns with parents sending sick students into classrooms.

“You are now a week in. How have things gone?” Lee asked.

“I think some people assumed that there would be no cases [of COVID-19], and that that was some sort of success,” Horsley said. 

“I’m glad you brought up that point. Success is not measured in zero cases,” Lee said. “Schools are merely a cross-section of the community at large. And we have not eradicated the community at large of this virus. Of course, we’ll see some positive cases pop up in the classroom. The question then is are you capable and do you have the safeguards in place to mitigate the spread and any risk posed by that.”

Keep sick kids at home

Lee pointed out the school district has a plea to parents to please keep your kids at home if he or she shows any symptoms of the virus.

Horsley said the positive cases are not the result of the spread of COVID-19 in the classroom but rather by infected kids bringing the virus from the home or community into schools.

“What we ultimately really need help with is making sure sick kids stay home. That helps keep staff and other students safe and makes these quarantines unnecessary when we see these cases confirmed,” Horsley said.

What happens when a sick kid shows up for school? Lee asked. 

Horsley said the school district educates 64,000 students and has a “handful” of positive cases — fewer than 10. Per health department directives, he added that when a student has the sniffles, they are immediately escorted to a supervised isolation room until Mom or Dad can pick them up.

“That’s not fun for the child. It unnecessarily places the entire class at risk. And our teachers as well. We can’t have school without teachers,” Horsley said. 

Students are all in

Lee said he spoke with teachers and administrators on Day One of school, and they said students were enthusiastically following health department guidance.

“Students have been phenomenal,” Horsley said. “Over the summer, we heard ‘there’s no way that kids can do this.’ Kids are not the problem right now in terms of mask wearing. They understand the principles of social distancing. . . One issue we do see is and continue to educate on is at lunchtime those kids are really excited to see each other — particularly at the secondary level — and we continue to see issues about social distancing. It’s usually the same students, and we continue to work with them. They understand it, and they do recognize that if we don’t follow these rules here, we don’t get to continue to have in-person instruction.”

What has been the attitude of teachers on returning to school amid a global pandemic? Lee asked. 

Horsley said the school district works to mitigate the concerns that teachers may have.

“Let’s figure out what’s working,  what’s not and modify it and make it so it can work. This is not something that’s rigid in stone from the get-go. . . . We certainly anticipated that there were things that we would learn over time, not just in this last week, but over the next few months as we continue to go through this process,” Horsley said.

He added that he is sure that there will be classes dismissed because of three or more positive cases.

“Or we may have schools dismissed for two weeks if we get over that 15-case threshold,” Horsley said.

He said when the community commits to the rules on wearing masks and social distancing, schools in the community will be safer.

Related content:

Video shows BYU students neither wearing masks nor social distancing, according to the student newspaper.

More: BYU students express concern over lack of masks and social distancing

Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.