SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s public K-12 schools will be dismissed through May 1 in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gary Herbert announced on Monday. Where possible, distance learning will continue for K-12 schools during the extended dismissal and employees will be limited in buildings to adhere to gathering orders.
Utah technical colleges will also suspend teaching starting March 30 through May 1. Since many classes require hands-on experience, online education isn’t practical for students.
As of Monday, 257 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in the state and one person had died of the illness.
“We recognize that being away from school creates additional work and stress for everyone in our communities; however, it is a necessary step in stopping the spread of COVID-19,” State Superintendent Sydnee Dickson said in a prepared statement. “During the uncertainties of the coming weeks, it is more important than ever to remain socially connected with our students and families while doing our best to ensure learning continues. The flexibility and initiative of our educators is a shining example of how we rise together in challenging circumstances.”
K-12 schools were initially dismissed on March 14 for two weeks.
As for the technical college dismissal, state officials said students currently enrolled in technical college programs will not lose progress they’ve made so far during the “pause” in instruction. Where necessary, college presidents do have discretion to make “limited exceptions” and allow some in-person instruction for “individuals or small groups of students nearing completion” so long as CDC guidelines are followed, the statement says.
“These are unprecedented times in Utah’s and our nation’s history,” Herbert said in the prepared statement. “I have been overwhelmed with Utahns’ outpouring of support for one another, and nowhere has this been more evident than in the way our educators are supporting Utah students and families.”