The Murray School District announced Thursday they will close all 10 of their district schools due to a potential direct contact exposure of teachers and students to someone with COVID-19. School districts in Summit and Wasatch Counties are preparing for the potential of an immediate shutdown.
Teachers are preparing lessons to send home with elementary students while secondary school teachers are updating on-line lesson plans so that in the event schools shut down, students can access on-line learning programs.
The Park City School District distributed a survey hoping to identify families in the district that do not have access to wi-fi. Communications Director Melinda Colton says the survey is online so families that don’t have access to the survey will be contacted by each school’s outreach coordinator by a text, phone call or home visit.
“So, you know almost everybody has phones, right? Virtually everybody has a phone and so we will make a hotspot like nearby that people can go in and have access to so that they can still do their online learning through their phone.”
The South Summit School District Superintendent Shad Sorenson says they provide computers that can be checked out but at this point they don’t know who lacks access to the internet.
“We are getting ready to close at a moment’s notice and by close, we would continue to do school electronically. We do not know for sure how many do not have devices at home and numbers without Internet.”
With nearly a third of Utah’s student population on free and reduced lunch, the state board of education has filed four waiver requests with the US Department of Agriculture. They are requesting flexibility with the school lunch program. Park City School District will arrange a grab and go program. South Summit School District will deliver breakfasts and lunches to their students enrolled in the program.
Wasatch County School District is preparing for closing schools by establishing open learning lab sites. They have temporarily cancelled extra-curricular activities, field trips and large events of more than 100. They plan to travel to St. George for the baseball tournament this weekend. Communications Director John Moss says if they close schools they would have faculty come to school and teach students remotely.
“In fact, the health department has given us a rubric that we use to decide whether we close or not and they all depend on having cases in the County.”
Wasatch County has not identified any COVID-19 cases as of this report. Summit County has had two people test positive for the virus.
The Governors Coronavirus Task Force announced the cancellation of all gatherings of more than 100 people targeting concerts, events and church gatherings.
The President of the University of Utah announced all classes will be done on-line beginning Monday, March 16.
The Utah Coronavirus Task Force is primarily focused on slowing the spread of the virus. K-12 schools (public, charter, private) are being asked to prepare to close. There is a 3 tiered plan in place for this, called “Ready, Set, Go.”
The Governors COVID-19 Task Force states "Closing a school is a local decision supported by the state and public health officials. The decision to close a school should not be made out of fear or anxiety but rather in close coordination with your local health officer. Do not close schools unless there is an imminent threat to students and staff and in close coordination with your local health officer. Additional guidance on school closures is forthcoming."
Hand washing, staying home when sick and social distancing are critical practices for slowing the spread of the virus.