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School districts still not completely back to “normal”

(Photo courtesy of Murray School District)

MURRAY, Utah — Will schools ever get “back to normal?”  Today marks the one-year anniversary of the first school district in Utah taking kids out of the classrooms over COVID-19 concerns, and officials from that district are still uncertain of what the future holds. 

All it took for the Murray School District to go into a “soft closure” was one student who may have been near someone infected with COVID-19.  They didn’t actually have any sick children.

District Spokesman Doug Perry says, “We, at the time, didn’t know a whole lot about COVID-19.  There were still a lot of people who didn’t know anything about that.”

In the end, the district believed it was better to be safe than sorry.

“We announced, out of an abundance of caution, that we were going to go into a soft closure with our school district,” Perry says.

At the time, some people called it an over-reaction, but Governor Gary Herbert put all schools in a soft closure the very next day, and that was supposed to last just two weeks.  Luckily for them, they had already been giving laptops to students and creating online teaching platforms before the pandemic.  Perry says they were going to practice using it for things like snowstorms.

“We were, in fact, planning to do sort of a drill of a soft closure in about two weeks from the time we actually did the closure,” he says.

Even though the software was built and the laptops were in place, things were chaotic at the beginning of their remote learning.

Perry says, “There were definitely hiccups and there were definitely things to learn from and things that we had to improve, quickly.”

Roughly two-thirds of the district’s classes are in-person, and Perry says a growing number of parents want their kids to return to the classroom after Spring Break.  However, they can’t just get rid of online learning, completely.

He says, “We still have to have that online option, too, because there are kids who are extremely vulnerable to viruses.”

Will things be “back to normal” in the fall?  Perry says they’re still trying to determine what their format is going to be, but they have a lot of unknowns.

“It should be better.  We know that there will be close to herd immunity, if not herd immunity by then,” Perry says.

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.
  • Get vaccinated.

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


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