By Jacob Klopfenstein, KSL.com | UPDATED - Dec. 17, 2020 at 12:32 p.m. | Posted - Dec. 17, 2020 at 10:26 a.m.
"Herbert also announced that quarantine guidelines for students at Utah schools will change after the first of the year. Students who had a close contact with another student who tested positive for COVID-19 will be allowed to stay in the classroom, so long as all students were wearing masks at the time of the contact, Herbert announced.
Data shows that classrooms are a low-risk environment for COVID-19 transmission, so state leaders made the decision to update those guidelines, Herbert said.
The governor added that he believes most teachers would welcome measures to keep students in classrooms because in-person learning is more effective than remote instruction.
State leaders hope to vaccinate Utah teachers by mid-January, and in the meantime, teachers are able to get tested for COVID-19 every week if they wish to do so, Herbert said.
"That will help give them some confidence, I think, going forward and hopefully boost morale," he said. "Our teachers have (shown) up every day to do their part, and so we thank them, we recognize their good work."
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Watch the full news conference here >>
Whether you use a calendar, day planner, or crafted a paper chain to count down the days to winter break. GEA recognizes the importance for all educators, regardless of your role in Granite schools to step back and unwind during the next few weeks. Before you leave, GEA wants to update you on what we have been working on recently.
GEA thanks the many members who contacted us to let us know that the Friday distance learning support and planning time was being infringed on for meetings, professional development, and a myriad of other reasons. After a letter sent to district administration alerting them of the situation, the following message was sent immediately out to the schools:
Another win on a state level is UEA’s success in sharing the voice of thousands of members statewide requesting to be included in the first round of Covid-19 vaccines. Last summer, public school employees were deemed “essential workers” by the governor. This led to opening schools to both in-person and on-line education. Utah was one of a handful of states to take this bold move which caused chaos to the lives of public-school employees, especially those who were high-risk for infection. In his address to the media last Wednesday, December 9, Governor Herbert stated:
Questions have come to GEA leaders regarding the process for quarantine and contact tracing in schools. Educators watch the Granite School District dashboard and see numbers of positive Covid-19 cases rise above the state health department’s minimum of 15. Some are hearing internally that there are many more positive cases than are reported. These discrepancies cause concern. Your advocates and GEA leaders met with Alison Milne, Director of Nursing Services, Leslie Bell, Assistant Superintendent, Teacher & Learning Services, and John Welburn, Assistant Superintendent, School Leadership & Improvement Services at the district office to have them explain the process so that we understood what was going on with the numbers.
Leslie Bell explained, the GSD dashboard cases have not been reviewed or verified by the health department and consequently are informative but not final dispositions. The process as it was described to us is as follows: cases are added to the dashboard by the district using both school information and health department information. Then, when the number reaches 15, the district alerts the health department, and the health department starts reviewing the cases. District staff work in conjunction with the Health Department to confirm case counts that would go towards that threshold. Distance learners and multiple cases from one household may show up in the public dashboard but do NOT contribute towards the 15-case threshold for dismissal, so sometimes the number of positive cases goes down during this process.
Meanwhile, within the backlog of contact tracing, cases at the school in question are prioritized, so that if the school is going to end up with over 15 cases counted by the health department, action to close, disinfect, and quarantine can happen quickly. So, there is some last-minute up-and-down of the case numbers.
Furthermore, the threshold is merely a point that triggers health department review and verification and thereafter determination by public health officials whether to recommend a dismissal. At that point, case information is verified, and the Salt Lake County Health Department makes a recommendation to dismiss IF those cases are confirmed. The District will NOT dismiss until that recommendation is received, and in some instances, that formal recommendation has come the same day, or even a day later, depending on circumstances.
Granite District administration says they will continue to work under the Health Department's guidance and direction in all COVID related matters.
This describes the process before the new rapid testing “test to stay” protocol that was piloted at Granger and Kearns High. Now, when the health department confirms that Hunter has reached the threshold, you will either go on a two-week dismissal or, if the district has enough rapid tests on hand, you will do the “test to stay” procedure.
As with everything “Covid” there is constant motion and change. Health officials learn from new research and data daily, so as things change, rest assured that your GEA leaders are staying on top of the wave and will bring you updates. Hopefully, this will allow you to have that “long winter’s nap” so needed at this time.
At the Granite School Board (Board) meeting on Tuesday, December 1, John Welburn, Granite School District (GSD) Assistant Superintendent, presented a PPT regarding an adjustment to instructional days. This proposed change comes from requests made by educators and GEA to the GSD Board and administration to allow for more teacher planning days following each quarter’s grading period (similar to what was experienced at the end of the first quarter).
At the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, the Utah State Board of Education (USBE) allowed districts to use up to five daily waivers for student instruction. These waivers are due to the complications which were expected to arise due to the covid-19 pandemic. GSD has used two of the five days allotted and three waivers remain.
The proposed revision to the school calendar will add two professional learning days to the end of the term on January 13-14, and one professional learning day to the end of the term on March 25th.
Important to note, several schools suffering an emergency closure early in the school year due to high winds and loss of power, will still need to make up the instructional days for students. The solution for those schools will be to use one or more of the additional professional learning day(s) in January and March to hold a distance learning day for students.
Following are the schools affected by the emergency closures:
Schools missing one day of instruction:
These calendar changes were approved unanimously by the Board and an updated calendar will be advertised. GEA is gratified that the Board and GSD administration look to ways to ease the workload for educators during end of term transitions.
2020-2021 Calendar - Board Presentation 12/01/20