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Canyons School District meets after more than 500 students quarantined

(Corner Canyon High School, located in Draper, Utah. Credit: Paul Nelson)

DRAPER —  The Canyons School District is mapping out how schools should move forward with their education plans during an outbreak of COVID-19 inside one of their schools.  This decision comes after over 100 people in the district have been infected, and one teacher is in intensive care.

Walking through the halls of Corner Canyon High School in Draper, you were likely to see a lot of people wearing purple.  Students who know teacher Charri Jensen say it’s her favorite color, and the students wanted to show their support for Mama J, as they call her.

Students like Macie Savage say they knew Jensen was infected with COVID-19, but they didn’t know Jensen was hooked up to a ventilator in an intensive care unit, fighting for her life.

(Macie Savage and the rest of her tennis team showing their support for Jensen. Credit: Derek Peterson, KSL TV)

She says, “I was heartbroken.  I didn’t know how to feel because we don’t know how critical it is.”

Her mother, Shannon Savage, says Mama J is the biggest cheerleader the school could ever have.

“She is the ultimate teacher, mentor to these kids.  She loves them all.  Most of all, the kids know they have a friend in her.  She as always got their back,” Savage says.

Jensen is one of 150 positive cases happening in the Canyons School District, with 73 of those cases being found in CCHS, alone, according to district officials.  Savage says health officials assure her the actual spread of the virus isn’t happening inside the schools, so, in a way, she feels her daughter can be safer at Corner Canyon, given everyone follows proper safety guidelines.

Savage says, “The kids, they need each other in these times.  They need to be with each other.”

The Utah Education Association has openly criticized districts that don’t follow the Utah Department of Health Guidelines, suggesting that schools should go into a two-week quarantine if there are 15 new cases, or more, within a two-week period.  However, Spokesman Jeff Haney says that guideline was never intended to be a one-size-fits-all rule.

Haney says, “A [total of] 15 in a school of 2,400 students is vastly different then a number of 15 at a school of 150 students.”

Corner Canyon has shifted to a hybrid schedule, which Haney says has reduced the number of students at the school on any given day.  Students are split into two groups, based on their last names, and only come to in-person classes two days a week.  Haney says they’ve received a tremendous amount of feedback from students and parents, and the information they’re getting is overwhelmingly one-sided.

“[The vast majority of] parents would like to see the schools remain open, even in a hybrid fashion,” according to Haney.

The Canyons Schol District board met on Friday and said they will launch a dashboard to post updates on COVID-19 cases throughout the school district and the communities laying out the data based on their three-tier system. 

Each tier will have different actions that a sub-committee of the Board and the District Administration will take to help mitigate the spread of the virus in their schools and communities.

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