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Park City Council Gets Briefing On COVID-19 Situation In Schools


The Park City Council heard from teachers and administrators last week during a Roundtable discussion about protocols and a general update on how schools are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Jill Gilldea is the Superintendent of the Park City School District. She said Utah’s goal since the start of the pandemic was to reopen schools.

“So all of our focus was really on how to best accomplish that goal,” Gilldea said. “We were very fortunate in the spring, we had great partnership with our staff, our administrators, our educators, people participate in task forces across any number of topics, instructional continuity, elementary curriculum, secondary curriculum, and what an alternate schedule might look like.” 

Some school districts in the state are offering a hybrid model of learning. That means students are divided, and switch off with in-person and remote learning depending on the day of the week. 

Park City School District members decided not to offer a hybrid style of learning. McPolin Elementary School Principal Bob Edmiston said hybrid learning would’ve been a burden on educators. 

“How much have you really accomplished in those very scattered conversations with those students,” Edmiston said. “I believe either the complete remote or the complete in person benefits everyone, from the teaching staff to the community and students as well.”

Instead of hybrid learning, Park City School District offers the option for students to learn remotely. About 30% of students chose to do remote learning for the first quarter of the school year. 

Park City High School Principal Roger Arbabi said while remote learners gave in-person students more space to socially distance, there were still issues with some students doing remote learning. 

“The problem with that, obviously, was that the students weren't divided equitably, you know, students who were in AP Physics, may’ve felt like they needed to be in class more than maybe they were if they were in financial literacy, so the distribution of students being gone was probably even as a result of that,” Arbabi said.

Some teachers in the Park City School District also spoke out about their experience since the start of the school year. 

Aaron Webb is a music teacher at Parley’s Park Elementary School. He said morale is low with many educators. 

“We're in uncharted territory, because people feel a lack of a sense of control. People don't know what's coming next. And that's all totally understandable,” Webb said. “Teachers are creative, teachers are strong and strong willed. And I believe we will get through this, if we have communication, if we have transparency.”

And Laura Starly is a 6th grade language arts teacher at Ecker Hill Middle School. She said there are teachers with low morale, but she’s trying to make the best of the situation. 

“So I can't really speak for every teacher,” Starly said. “I know that we've been having fun. Our group that has ‘B Lunch’ at Ecker, we go outside, we eat, we have a little camaraderie. And I think we're kind of like students in that way when we were so isolated in the spring, and having to do everything on our own and really didn't have our teammates around us.” 

You can find more information on the number of active COVID-19 cases and how many students are in quarantine on the Park City School District’s COVID Dashboard.

Jessica joins KPCW as a general assignment reporter and Sunday Weekend Edition host. A Florida native, she graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in English — concentrating in film studies — and journalism. Before moving to Utah, she spent time in Atlanta, GA.
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