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Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Skyline, Viewmont call off Week 7 region games over COVID-19 concerns

By Sean Walker, KSL.com | Updated - Sep. 21, 2020 at 5:55 p.m. | Posted - Sep. 21, 2020 at 8:56 a.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — Amid a spike in COVID-19 cases across the state, but particularly on the Wasatch Front, another high school football game has been called off.

Friday night's Brighton game at Skyline has been called off due to COVID-19 guidelines, Skyline principal Mitch Nerdin said in a letter to parents Sunday.

The Salt Lake County Health Department informed Skyline of four active cases (confirmed and recovering) among its team members, Nerdin said Sunday in a letter to parents. As such, the health department’s recommendation was to dismiss the team from all team activities through Thursday, Oct. 1.

"I regret that we are in this circumstance," Nerdin said. "I applaud our coaching staff who have been making every effort to ensure the safety of your students. Regretfully, we continue to see transmission in social and family circumstances outside of official school activities.

"Your student’s health and safety is our primary concern," Nerdin continued, "and we will continue to work to ensure their health and well-being in the midst of this dismissal. More information will be forthcoming to assist with the transition to distance learning."

North of the Salt Lake Valley, Viewmont's home game Friday against Region 5 rival Farmington has also been postponed over COVID-19 concerns. Both schools hope to make up the game at a later date, Viewmont athletic director Jeff Emery told KSL.com.

The Davis School District, which governs both high schools, reported 43 positive cases last week across secondary schools in the district, with 72 quarantined. None of the district's nine high schools had reached the 15 cases minimum which would push classes online for a minimum of two weeks.

The Vikings (1-4) were looking for their first win since a 13-10 victory over Northridge in the season opener Aug. 14. Farmington (2-4) was coming off a 15-13 win over Woods Cross.

The Vikings’ football program was placed in quarantine due to multiple positive test results for COVID-19, Davis School District said in a statement to the Standard-Examiner.

Due to the two-week isolations, Viewmont also postponed the Region 5 contest next Friday at Bountiful.

All quarantines or isolations have been communicated to the required parties, Skyline's letter continued, adding a recommendation that students stay home when possible and avoid all large group gatherings and activities. It also encouraged adherence to the countywide mask mandate and social distancing, where possible, similar to recommendations offered by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn.

The suggestion was swiftly approved by Skyline High and the Granite School Board.

"In July, when we approved our return to school plans, our board committed to our communities and teachers that we would abide by the state health department guidance and recommendations," Granite board president Karyn Winder said. "We are not inclined to disregard these scientifically based recommendations. Safety for our students, their families, and employees will continue to be paramount above all else."

Granite School District spokesperson Ben Horsley said no other games had been canceled or postponed within the district, but Olympus is two cases away from moving to an online format for at least two weeks.

"We’re not going to go against the county health order," Horsley told the Deseret News. "It’s a privilege to go to school in the midst of a global pandemic, and we’re not acting like it."

Skyline had previously reported three cases among the school community in its weekly update, according to Granite School District’s own COVID-19 dashboard which is updated every Monday. All three transmissions appeared to come from community spread, meaning they came from social or family interactions, the district noted on its dashboard.

Skyline’s three cases represented 0.18% of the student-body population.

The Bengals reported 12 confirmed positive cases of the novel coronavirus on campus in the Canyons School District’s new COVID-19 dashboard, which launched Friday after an abundance of cases were discovered at nearby Corner Canyon High School. The Chargers’ 70 cases, representing 3.01% of the school’s student-body population, has moved coursework online for at least two weeks.

Corner Canyon students may still participate in extra-curricular activities such as athletics, though at least two teams — volleyball and cross country — have been placed in isolation for two weeks.

Brighton’s 12 cases account for just 0.6% of the schools 2,102 students, meaning the school hasn’t reached the threshold to move online or even shift classes under the district’s new guidelines.

But the caseload represents the third-highest total of high schools in the district, behind Corner Canyon and Alta (14). Only 10 other cases are present in the district, including nine at Jordan.

The game was set to feature two 6-0 teams and have significant implications on the Region 6 championship.

The game wouldn’t be the first to be canceled as a result of COVID-19, nor the first from either district. Bingham’s opener with Weber was the first to be canceled, and Cyprus canceled its Week 2 game against Ridgeline on recommendation from the Salt Lake County Health Department.

Provo’s annual rivalry game with Timpview was also canceled, ending a matchup that had been played every year since the two schools split off in 1977. COVID-19 protocols have pushed two schools in the Alpine School District, Timpanogos and Pleasant Grove, to modify their school schedule — but extra-curricular activities were not affected by either change.

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