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.