Scott G. Winterton, KSL, File

State superintendent: Utah students not likely to return to school any time soon

By Mary Richards, KSL Newsradio | Posted - Apr. 9, 2020 at 6:26 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — It is looking more likely that Utah students won’t be back in a physical school classroom before summer vacation.

“If I were schools I’d be planning on what it looks like to stay out of school through the remainder of the year,” said state K-12 superintendent Sydnee Dickson.

Dickson said the state health department and the governor will make their decision and announce any plans based on data and modeling. Currently, the order for students to stay home and participate in remote learning lasts through May 1. But county health orders could close school buildings for longer.

Dickson told KSL NewsRadio’s Dave and Dujanovic Show that schools are already making plans to stay closed.

“They are talking about virtual graduations and trying to hold events later in the summer.”

Dickson says they are looking at public education in three phases right now. Phase 1, the phase we’re currently in, is to keep education going, feed children, and support employees.

Phase 2, which will last through the summer, is to assess learning gaps and Phase 3 is to return and recover in the fall.

Different Utah school districts tell KSL NewsRadio they are seeing around 90% participation so far from students at home on these remote learning assignments.

But it is hard to track attendance, because teachers are using different platforms, like Canvas, Zoom, email, Teams, Google, Remind and others to communicate with students and parents.

Districts have also signed out computers, iPads or other technology and remote internet access to many families to help ensure students can continue learning with their teachers.

Dickson said she recognizes that this whole situation is hard on everyone.

“Managing expectations at home has been a bit of a challenge; teachers are figuring out pacing and the amount of work to send home. I think just the managing of it all has been stressful for teachers and students and families,” she said.

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