SALT LAKE CITY–More than half a dozen schools in three separate districts have to make major changes to how they hold classes and play sports thanks to COVID-19. Educators say these schools have an unusually high number of confirmed cases, and there are likely more no one knows about.
Granite School District closes two schools
Granger High School and Olympus High School will close for two weeks and move to remote instruction beginning on Thursday, Sept. 24 through Thursday, Oct. 8.
The Granite School District announced on Wednesday the recommendation to shift to online learning comes from the Salt Lake County Health Department. All in-person classes will be put on hold.
The state recommends if there are 15 or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a two week period, the entire school should switch to online learning for 14 days. Granite School District Spokesman Ben Horsley says that’s exactly what they’re doing.
“Our board is not inclined to disregard an actual public health recommendation,” said Horsley.
The buildings will be closed for the next two days for deep cleaning. Teachers will work from their classrooms to provide distance education during the dismissal.
Extracurriculars to continue
Despite schools closing, extracurricular activities and sporting events will be able to proceed with limitations on spectators. The district says no sports teams at either Granger or Olympus High School have more than three confirmed cases of the virus. The Salt Lake County Health Department does not recommend canceling the activities, according to the district.
However, Skyline High School’s football team is not able to play or practice, for now. That team had four confirmed cases, and health officials say any team or class with three or more needs to isolate themselves for two weeks.
In general, Skyline is creeping dangerously close to the threshold of 15 confirmed cases. Horsley says that might seem like an arbitrary number, but Horsley says the state chose it for a good reason.
“When you have 15 confirmed cases in a small school community, no matter how many overall people are in that community, you really actually have 40 or 50 potential cases that you don’t know about,” he said.
“Our board of education is committed to abiding by the State and Local Health Department guidance and recommendations. We are not inclined to disregard these scientifically based recommendations. Safety for our students, their families, and employees will continue to be paramount above all else,” said Granite board president Karyn Winder.
Canyons School District
In the Canyons School District, Alta and Brighton have been moved to strictly online learning beginning Thursday and district officials hope in-classes resume by October 7th. In the meantime, those schools will be thoroughly cleaned.
The district posted a statement on their website asking parents to keep watching their children for any signs of the disease.
It reads, “Please contact a health provider immediately if your child begins to suffer a fever, cough, fatigue, muscle or body aches, new loss of taste or smell, a sore throat, congestion, nausea, or has difficulty breathing.”
Previously, Corner Canyon High School was shifted to a hybrid schedule after an alarming uptick in confirmed cases. That meant students were separated into two groups, then alternated two days at school and two days of distance learning.
District officials say it dramatically reduced the number of students on campus on any given day. However, the district decided to move Corner Canyon to strictly online learning last Friday.
Alpine School District
The Alpine School District isn’t pivoting to strictly online classes like other districts are. Spokesperson Kimberly Bird says they saw a massive drop in student participation when classes are only offered digitally.
“A lot of our kids are thinking of the two days off [from in-person classes] as true days off. That what has been difficult in the hybrid model,” she said.
They’ve decided to use the hybrid schedule similar to what Canyons attempted with Corner Canyon. Bird says they used this hybrid model when there was an uptick at Pleasant Grove High School, and it was very effective in bring down the number of infected students.
“They came back and their numbers are staying nice,” she said.
How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus
COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, 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.
Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707
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