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0000017b-652b-d50a-a3ff-f7efb02e0000KPCW's COVID-19 news coverage for Summit County and Wasatch County, Utah. 0000017b-652b-d50a-a3ff-f7efb02f0000You can also visit the Utah Department of Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization websites for additional information.

Wasatch School District Had To Go Online, But It's A Change They Were Ready For

Wasatch School District

Wasatch County has eight reported cases of COVID-19, as of Sunday.   And in the meantime, some 2400 students and staff are quarantined and are conducting school online.

But Wasatch School officials see a silver lining in the disruption.   They say this is something they prepared for.

The spokesman for the Wasatch School District, John Moss, said they’re doing well, because the District was the first in the state to adopt a digital education system.         

“And we’ve been doing this for the last six years, where our kids have all had a computer or device of some sort.  And so it was a fairly natural transition for us.   It was a disruption because it’s different.  But this is not new territory for our teachers or our students.  And so they just moved into the home, and lessons are being delivered to the students by teachers.   We have software that allows them to talk to their entire classes at one time.   And the kids can talk back and forth and have communication.   So really it’s something new, of course, but it’s something we were well prepared to do.”

He said the students use MacBooks or Ipads to access the system.

Some of the faculty are self-isolating.    Others are working at the schools.    But Moss said the principals and administrators hold regular virtual meetings.    And, yes, the teachers are taking the roll and keeping track of attendance.

He said he believes the students are responding well to the system.       

“I was visiting with my granddaughters last night, that are in the 1st and 5th grade.  And they’re just delighted with the contact they’ve had with their teachers, with their fellow students.  They feel like this has really become an adventure in learning for them, because the teachers have been so well-prepared and are keeping the students so calm through this process.”

He said they have a regular school day, but it’s adjusted.         

“So of course, they’re not on—the teachers aren’t on the air with them for an entire 7-hour period.  But what they do is they get their class together, they talk with them, give them some assignments.  And then, at the elementary level especially, there’s a lot of one-on-one, where a teacher will connect with a single student and will just kinda work into any challenges they’re having.  And most of all, it’s important for us to keep the kids feeling emotionally secure.  And that’s one of the things teachers are doing very, very well.  They’re talking with these students, and they are helping them feel, like“Hey we’re gonna make it through this all right.”

The District has put off high-stakes testing, and state-wide, athletic events have been postponed.

Moss said the only two elements they’re continuing are class instruction and school lunches.       

“They’’re providing lunches for kids.   Yesterday they fed over 1200 kids at lunch.   We had the pickups at four different locations—at Heber Valley Elementary, Timpanogos Middle School, J. R. Smith Elementary and Midway Elementary.  And kids, no matter what level and no matter what the economic situation is, can go to  those four schools and pick up a lunch every day, from 11 to 12:30.”

It was only four months ago that the Wasatch District’s proposed $150 million construction bond failed at the ballot box.    Moss admitted the District’s online operation  raises doubts about whether they need to construct new buildings at all.        

“This could force us into analyzing the whole educational system.  Coming forward out of this deal, we’ll be looking at a lot of things to see how we can best serve our students.”

Wasatch School District spokesman John Moss, who said there are still a lot of unknowns, such as when or if graduation will happen this spring.   But they’re still aiming for the end of the school year at the end of May.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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