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Governor Cox clears the way for temporary remote learning in schools

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Utah.gov
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State leaders announced Thursday they'll allow school districts to go to remote learning temporarily if needed in response to the omicron surge.

Citing public health emergency circumstances, Governor Spencer Cox says because of the number of schools severely impacted by the omicron surge, school districts should have the flexibility to go to remote learning.

A letter to school districts also signed by state schools superintendent Sydnee Dickson, state Senate President Stuart Adams and State House Speaker Brad Wilson, outlined the criteria districts need to meet to go remote. Those include having a certain number of positive cases on campus, and the school board approving temporary remote learning.

The state’s test to stay program – which required students to test negative to remain on campuses where a threshold of positive COVID cases has been detected – isn’t working, they said. And it’s also overwhelming the state health department due to the sheer numbers of tests being administered and processed.

Two Summit County school districts, North Summit and South Summit districts, are well below a threshold that would qualify them to consider remote learning.

Park City School District is far above the minimum threshold to trigger remote learning at three schools. As of Thursday Park City High School had 167 cases, Treasure Mountain Junior High had 127 cases and Ecker Hill Middle had 77 cases.

In a state of the district Zoom presentation Wednesday night, Park City Schools Chief Operations Officer Mike Tanner admitted that the current school year has been more challenging than last year, but said the district has done a great job with COVID safety.

The presentation highlighted long-term plans for instruction and facilities expansion but did not touch on the omicron surge and how it’s playing out here.

Park City School board members and district administrators haven’t responded to KPCW’s requests for information this week about remote learning protocols and whether they’re considering a temporary pivot.

The district’s attorney sent KPCW a letter saying it will not communicate with the radio station until an investigation into mask mandate compliance at Parley’s Park Elementary School has concluded.

District employees told KPCW that an emergency meeting with school board president Erin Grady, district administrators and union representatives about moving to remote learning was occurring Thursday afternoon.