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Schools in Wasatch County seeing rise in COVID-19 cases

Daniels Canyon Elementary School Wassatch County School District WCSD
Ben Lasseter
Daniels Canyon Elementary School, located south of Heber City in Daniel, has a student population of 595.

As more Wasatch County students test positive for COVID-19, schools are entering new protocol phases.

Rocky Mountain Middle School and Daniels Canyon Elementary School each surpassed a 15-case threshold this week, triggering the second level of the district-wide COVID-19 mitigation plan. Level two will last 14 days from Wednesday through the 23rd.

“It’s just unfortunate that this is still moving forward, but it’s important because it’s public health,” said Kirsta Albert, school district information officer. “We’re stewards of these kids while they’re at school, and we defer to the Wasatch County Health Department and Utah Department of Health.”

Emails to parents explained the statewide policy for schools with fewer than 1,500 students who hit the second level.

Students are considered to have been exposed after spending 15 minutes within six feet of someone who has tested positive for COVID. Even if they don’t show symptoms or test positive, they have to follow a 10-day isolation protocol. They can quarantine from home or come to school and wear a mask and keep distance from others. After seven days, they can get out of the quarantine protocol with a negative test.

Students are exempt from the protocol if they’ve been vaccinated or prove they had COVID within the past 90 days with a positive test.

For schools with more than 1,500 students the second level is triggered when active cases make up 1% of students and school personnel. Level three, which occurs when 2% test positive, triggers a test-to-stay program, where all students at the school must test negative to return to campus.

Wasatch High School reported 13 active cases today, or about 0.5% of the student body. Other schools in the district reported up to six cases.

Soldier Hollow Charter School in Charleston has about 300 students. It’s not part of the Wasatch County School District. As of Thursday, it had eight active student cases and an additional five “school-associated” cases, according to the state COVID-19 website updated daily. A parent of a student there reported the school asked their child, who had an exposure, to wear a mask on campus or quarantine for 10 days. The school didn’t respond to KPCW’s request for comment in time for this report.

Regardless of case numbers, schools in the district encourage basic guidelines to reduce spread.

“If you come into the district building or go into any of the school buildings, we have posters in English and Spanish posted of our general prevention guidelines that we recommend a vaccine for students and staff. The department of health has made available vaccines for students ages five to 11. We encourage masking when indoors, we encourage sick students to stay at home, isolation when positive, contract tracing, quarantining when exposed,” Albert said.

Students who show symptoms at school can get free tests on campus.

The Wasatch Education Association told KPCW it “supports the [district’s] Covid-19 Action Plan procedures and guidelines.”

Ben Lasseter reports for KPCW in Wasatch County. Before moving to Heber City, Ben worked in Manti as a general assignment newspaper reporter and editor.
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