Schools ready to welcome students back; some concerned of potential COVID-19 spike

Doug Flagler, Jordan School District

Schools ready to welcome students back; some concerned of potential COVID-19 spike

By John Wojcik, KSL NewsRadio | Posted - Nov. 30, 2020 at 9:27 a.m.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Schools are back in session Monday for most districts across the state, which has some worried about a potential spike in COVID-19 cases following Thanksgiving break.

Another COVID-19 spike?

Most school officials say that going to school is safe and that the virus hasn't been shared in their buildings as much as in other places.

"Actually, kids are doing a great job. We're seeing very low levels of transmission on school property," said Ben Horsley with the Granite School District.

He said that's a clear sign that safety measures have been effective so far and should remain that way following the break.

"Less than 1% of (COVID-19) cases that are impacting our schools are happening on school property," Horsley said.

More information on coronavirus specifics can be found on the Granite School District dashboard.

Some teachers say it's time to move online

Not everyone agrees, though. The Utah Education Association is standing by a request to Gov. Gary Herbert to move secondary schools in high-transmission areas to online instruction until at least 2021.

"It's still concerning to us that we still have secondary schools that are open in these high transmission areas," said Renee Pinkney, UEA vice president. "Especially after the Thanksgiving holiday, the concern is that the transmission will increase."

The union sent out a survey to members asking about working conditions and how the organization can best support teachers after that request was not included in the governor's recent directives.

According to UEA leaders, they've already heard from some teachers that share their concerns.

"I think the best move for our students, for our community, for our teachers right now is to go online through the holidays and for a safe period after," said Brooke Walrath, who teaches in the Granite School District. "I'm really concerned for the students at my school. I'm really concerned for the other teachers at my school."

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