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Scott G. Winterton, KSL

Copper Hills High School closed after employee tests positive for COVID-19

By Marjorie Cortez, KSL | Updated - May 26, 2020 at 7:22 p.m. | Posted - May 26, 2020 at 2:34 p.m.


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WEST JORDAN — Copper Hills High School was closed for the day Tuesday after Salt Lake County health authorities informed the Jordan School District that a school employee had tested positive for COVID-19.

School employees were told Monday to stay home until further notice.

“Closing the school will allow custodians adequate time to thoroughly disinfect the building,” the district said in an email to the school community.

“Safety is our top priority,” it states.

Tuesday evening, the school district notified parents, staff and students that the school will resume regular public hours on Wednesday. The health department determined that “exposures to others was limited,” according to an email sent to parents and students.

Graduates can resume taking photographs on the school stage on Wednesday. Access to driver education ranges and other previously scheduled appointments and activities in the school can also resume.

Health authorities did not direct the district to close the school but it did so out of an abundance of caution, said Jordan District spokeswoman Sandy Riesgraf.

The school had been closed for three days for the Memorial Day weekend, which further limited risk of exposure to other employees, she said.

Copper Hills High School in West Jordan is pictured on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. The school was closed Tuesday so custodians can do a deep clean after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. (Photo: Scott G. Winterton, KSL)

“We decided on our own, ‘Let’s just use an abundance of caution here, use every precaution and get our team in there and fully clean it,’” Riesgraf said.

Salt Lake County Health Department spokesman Nicholas Rupp said although the health department did not recommend closure of the school, “they are certainly welcome to do that and ... we’re supportive of the choice that they made.”

The health department conducted an investigation Tuesday to identify other people who were in contact with the employee who tested positive and advised them to quarantine for 14 days and watch for symptoms, Rupp said.

“If it’s close enough contact we may give them a referral code to be tested proactively even if they aren’t showing symptoms,” Rupp said.

In-person learning at Copper Hills High School has been suspended since mid-March when Gov. Gary Herbert and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson announced a halt to in-school instruction statewide due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rupp acknowledged that dismissing school presented a host of challenges for students, educators and families, but “from a disease prevention perspective, it is fortunate.”

Limited numbers of students had been in the building recently to take graduation photographs and to clean out their lockers.

A drive-by celebration for retirees scheduled for Tuesday was also called off and will be rescheduled.

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