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Schools ready to welcome students back, some concerned of potential COVID-19 spike

FILE -- Riverton High School cleaning crews spray tables and chairs in an effort to battle the coronavirus pandemic on Sept. 17, 2020. Doug Flagler, Jordan School District

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Schools are back in session Monday for most districts across the state, which has some worried about a potential spike in COVID-19 cases following Thanksgiving break.  

Another COVID-19 spike? 

Most school officials say that going to school is safe and that the virus hasn’t been shared in their buildings as much as in other places. 

“Actually, kids are doing a great job. We’re seeing very low levels of transmission on school property,” said Ben Horsley with the Granite School District.

He said that’s a clear sign that safety measures have been effective so far and should remain that way following the break.

“Less than 1% of [COVID-19] cases that are impacting our schools are happening on school property,” Horsley said.

More information on coronavirus specifics can be found on the Granite School District dashboard.

Some teachers say it’s time to move online

Not everyone agrees, though. The Utah Education Association (UEA) is standing by a request to Governor Herbert to move secondary schools in high-transmission areas to online instruction until at least 2021. 

“It’s still concerning to us that we still have secondary schools that are open in these high transmission areas,” said Renee Pinkney, UEA vice president. “Especially after the Thanksgiving holiday, the concern is that the transmission will increase.”

The union sent out a survey to members asking about working conditions and how the organization can best support teachers after that request was not included in the governor’s recent directives.

According to UEA leaders, they’ve already heard from some teachers that share their concerns.

“I think the best move for our students, for our community, for our teachers right now is to go online through the holidays and for a safe period after,” said Brooke Walrath, who teaches in the Granite School District. “I’m really concerned for the students at my school. I’m really concerned for the other teachers at my school.”



How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronaviruses transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is 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.
  • Wear a mask.
  • 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.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States