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New health order could impact school dances, graduation ceremonies

A recent order from the Utah Department of Health could have a major impact on school activities this spring. (PHOTO: Adobe Stock)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A recent order from the Utah Department of Health could have a major impact on school activities this spring.

New health order calls for high school testing

The order dictates that eight weeks after Utah reaches 1.63 million primary doses of the COVID-19 vaccine allocated, counties in the low transmission index can lift mask mandates. The state is currently at just over 400,000 primary doses administered.

Perhaps having a more immediate impact on the state’s population, it also requires testing of all high school students participating in a one-time school-sponsored extracurricular activity.

That means things like field trips, school dances and graduation ceremonies could be gradually phased in.

‘Anything we can do to get as normal as possible’

Ben Horsley, with the Granite School District, says they will be doing everything possible to make extracurricular activities “normal” again.

“Anything we can do to get as normal as possible is going to be a great opportunity and blessing,” he explained.

He highlights school dances, specifically prom, as something that will be positively impacted in the short term by this most recent order.

“Those are things that we look forward to be able to provide the senior class that we were not able to the last three months of the last school year,” said Horsley. “Kids can come get tested with a rapid antigen and be able to participate in a formal dance activity, with again some additional restrictions.”

Beyond high school seniors getting their prom, younger students should benefit as well.

“We’re anticipating providing guidance to our schools on how they can conduct a field day at the elementary schools,” he said.

One thing that actually may stay relatively the same are commencement ceremonies.

According to Horsley, the changes made last spring were widely successful at better including additional family members. He says to expect many schools to set-up a hybrid ceremony, incorporating both in-person and virtual components.