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State leaders update COVID-19 protocols for in-person learning

By Morgan Wolfe, KSL TV | Posted - Jan. 5, 2021 at 7:38 a.m.

SALT LAKE CITY – Every school district with in-person learning has been impacted by COVID-19 in some shape or form, including the Granite School District, which had eight high schools dismissed at some point because of the COVID-19 threshold between September and December.

Now, state officials hope new recommendations can ease the schedule switching burden districts have faced.

"We believe keeping kids in school, it's actually safer for them," said Ben Horsley, Granite School District spokesperson.

Horsley said the new recommendations will have a positive impact on regulating the district's schedules.

"It's not necessary to send kids home when they're not getting sick," Horsley said.

A big change is dropping the quarantine from 14 to 10 days. Also, students don't have to isolate themselves if they are not symptomatic after mask-to-mask exposure.

Instead of a 15-case threshold statewide, schools with more than 1,500 students and employees can remain open until 1% of that population is affected by a COVID-19 outbreak within a two-week rolling period.

That includes testing positive for the virus or being forced to isolate due to exposure.

It's not necessary to send kids home when they're not getting sick.

–Ben Horsley, Granite School District spokesperson

When Utah leaders announced these changes in December, they said they were supported by data. However, Utah Education Association officials didn't agree with the changes.

"We've had to field a handful of individual concerns here and there and we're happy to do so — at the end of the day, we want to make sure teachers feel safe just as much as our students and our families," Horsley said.

Heading into 2021 with the goal to stay in school physically.

"We do value the tremendous work being done by her teachers in classrooms and in person," Horsley said.

These are only recommendations from state leaders and districts can choose to enforce them. Every district KSL talked to said they will.

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