Board Meeting Summary, August 3, 2021

Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking on the corresponding agenda items.

Back-to-School Action Plan

To guide operations during an ongoing public-health concern, Canyons has created a 2021-2022 Back-to-School Plan that adheres to state laws and takes into account recommendations by health authorities. Canyons Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins said that when school starts on Monday, Aug. 16, CSD will have in place robust cleaning regimens, wellness-maintenance protocols, and in-person and online learning opportunities. Canyons District schools will follow the plan unless ordered otherwise by state or county health and government officials. Dr. Robins said CSD students and employees are welcome to wear face-coverings as recommended by health authorities, but masks will not be required at school or in District Offices. A Utah law passed last spring eliminated a school district’s ability to put into place a mask mandate unless ordered by the local health department. Such an order has not been issued by the Salt Lake County Health Department. CSD encourages parents and employees to consult with their family physicians regarding mask-wearing. Online Registration also has started for the 2021-2022 school year. Parents can register their students for in-person learning or classes via Canyons Online, the new remote-learning program for students of all ages. If a student attends in-person learning, parents can be assured the learning environments will be as clean as possible. CSD schools will be equipped with cannisters of hand-sanitizer, touchless water fountains, and air filters that utilize an electrostatic charge to remove fine particles from the air. Classrooms also will be provided plenty of cleaning supplies. As always, schools will be cleaned throughout the day and into the evening hours. Cleaning crews also will regularly disinfect classrooms, hallways, and commons areas with hospital-grade cleaning detergents. Seating charts and/or co-horting, or a combination thereof, will be encouraged to aid any contact-tracing efforts, which will be done by the Salt Lake County Health Department. Following the guidance of health authorities, regardless of vaccination status, students who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate at home for 10 days from the test date. Students who are in quarantine or isolation can access education via Canvas. Parents and guardians of students will be notified in the event of a close-contact exposure at a school. Vaccinated students or students who have had COVID-19 within 90 days of the exposure can continue with their studies uninterrupted. Health authorities recommend that non-vaccinated students either quarantine at home for 10 days and access education via Canvas or attend school with a mask. Close-contact exposure will be decided by the Salt Lake County Health Department. After a close-contact exposure, at the seven-day mark, students can choose to be tested. If the test returns as negative, they may remove their masks at school. If they choose not to get tested, it’s recommended that they wear a mask at school for 10 days. A student would not be considered exposed if both parties were wearing masks at the time of possible exposure, or the contact has had COVID-19 in the last 90 days.  A Test to Stay event will be held at schools when case counts meet the threshold as prescribed by state law.  Tests will not be done without parent or guardian permission. CSD also will feature a dashboard on the website to provide information for the community. 

COVID-19 Relief Funding

Canyons proposes to use a new round of federal funds provided through the American Rescue Plan to increase student achievement in literacy and mathematics, support the physical and mental health and safety of students, conduct outreach to students who did not enroll or consistently attend classes during the COVID-19 year, and increase opportunities for credit recover and post-secondary school preparedness. A survey of patrons soliciting input on the grant application priorities has been distributed to parents, Dr. Roderick-Landward said. A reminder to complete the survey to be sent this week. CSD’s share of the ESSER III funds is $21,780,120.  In addition, CSD is proposing to use some of the funds to support the first years of Canyons Online, CSD’s new online-learning program. CSD also proposes to use funds to hire additional nurses, mental health staff workers, community school facilitators, outreach and intervention mentors, and a two-way communication and translation service for non-English speaking parents, and an early-college prep partnership, among other strategies. The plan for the expenditure of the funds, which will primarily be spent during the 2023 and 2024 school years, must gain approval from the Canyons Board of Education.  The Board will continue reviewing the proposal.

Reading Difficulties Task Force

A task force studying how Canyons can better support students experiencing such reading difficulties as dyslexia continues to work on aligning supports, streamlining interventions, evaluating assessment practices, developing common language and instructional recommendations, and collaborating on professional development for teachers. The task force, made up of representatives from CSD’s Instructional Supports, Special Education, and Federal Programs, officially started meeting in 2019. ISD Director Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward said CSD is adding resources to curriculum maps to more explicitly define the science of reading and the inclusion of dyslexia in resources for reading difficulties. Interventions have been evaluated for effectiveness, Dr. Roderick-Landward said, as well as implemented phonemic awareness screening in elementary schools, among other measures. Dr. Roderick-Landward also presented CSD’s proposed Early Literacy Plan, which targets learning to meet state achievement requirements. As part of the plan, CSD seeks to increase the percentage of kindergarten students who are proficient in specific reading skills by 2 percent from the middle to the end of the year. The District also has a goal of increasing the percentage of first-grade students who are proficient in specific skills by 22 percent over the course of the school year. Dr. Roderick-Landward said the District will target the goals with an educator-training program called LETRS — Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling — to provide a depth of knowledge of the science of reading and how to teach students how to read, even if they are struggling.

Patron Comments

  • Greg Schiffman, representing the Granite Community Council, said he’s received concerning input from constituents about CSD curriculum and instruction. He urged the District to focus on core subjects and not political or divisive ideologies. 
  • Christopher Phillips urged additional COVID-19 restrictions in schools given the reported case counts in the community.
  • CSD parent Amy Quintana said families should have the choice whether children are required to masks. 
  • Parent Lauren Cromar expressed concern about the air-filtering systems in schools to reduce the transmission risk of COVID-19  She also said she supports masks in schools. 
  • Parent Jenny Nazzaro asked the District to work with the county health department to enact a mask mandate in schools.
  • Parent Holly Marz encouraged the District to put into place precautions prohibiting teachers from using Critical Race Theory in the classroom. She also said she did not want her children to watch the news during school. She also encouraged the District to provide information about what has been updated on forms so she is immediately aware of what has changed.
  • Patron Rebecca Colley said information about COVID-19 has been contradictory and expressed concern about government over-reach.
  • Parent Shayla Streiff spoke against mask mandates for students attending schools.
  • Parent Lisa Bruns encouraged the Board to ensure that the social-emotional learning programs offered in Canyons are not a part of Critical Race Theory.
  • Patron Lauri Egbert encouraged the Board to create a response mechanism for those who speak during Board meeting. She also said a group of parents would like to have a forum to discuss issues with Board members. 
  • Parent Leslie Christiansen spoke against mask mandates in school. She said the choice should be made by families. 
  • Parent Jessica Anderson said families said should make decisions for their own children about mask wearing at schools. 
  • Patron Gaylynn Bennion expressed concern about the Delta variant of COVID-19.  She encouraged following health authority recommendations regarding mitigation strategies. 
  • Ellie Ware student at Corner Canyon High said masks have a negative impact on student mental health. She also said the masks discouraged students from speaking in class. 
  • Patron Christine Morzelewski said parents should have the choice of whether children wear masks to school
  • Sen. Kathleen Riebe noted the public interest in curriculum, instruction and back-to-school protocols, thanked parents for providing input, and welcomed the new employees to Canyons District. 

Recognitions

The following Corner Canyon students were recognized for their achievements at the Freshwood Student Woodworking Competition in Las Vegas, one of the premier contests for students in this field:

  • Katie Farnsworth, first place, Open Category
  • Savannah Richards, second place, Open Category
  • Jacob Farnsworth,  second place, Tables Category

Policy Updates

Assistant Legal Counsel Jeff Christensen presented proposed updates to policies governing student attendance, vision screening, school access, and district and school information media. Christensen also proposes the Board render obsolete policies on student hearing screenings, test and examinations and remediations, and community use of CSD property and equipment.

Consent Agenda

The Board of Education approved the Consent Agenda, including the minutes of the Board of Education meeting on July 15, 2021; hire and termination reports; purchasing bids; and student overnight travel requests. 

Strategic Planning

Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins updated the Board on the progress of the strategic plan, including a recent meeting Steering Committee and the planned Superintendent Listening Tour.  

Superintendent and Business Administrator Reports

Superintendent Dr. Robins expressed appreciation for the parents who provided input during Patron Comment and thanked the employees of the District for their hard work preparing for the school year.

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox thanked Dr. Roderick-Landward for her thorough presentations tonight and reminded the Board about the Aug. 2 start of Online Registration and the ribbon-cutting events at Alta, Hillcrest and Brighton high schools. There will be unfinished projects at all three buildings when school starts on Monday, Aug. 16, he said.

Board of Education Member Reports

President Tingey expressed appreciation for the hard work of faculty, administrators, and staff to start the school year successfully.

Mr. Mont Millerberg thanked the patrons for attending the meeting, addressing the Board during Patron Comment, and reaching out to the Board via email or phone calls.  He also noted the contributions of Corner Canyon High to Draper, and said he believes Alta, Brighton and Hillcrest school communities will appreciate their new buildings, as well. He encouraged students to provide input about the instruction and curriculum in their classes. 

Ms. Amanda Oaks noted the history of and importance of democracy, civility, human rights, and the rule of law, and said the sense of community has never been more important as the country struggles with the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. She also noted the protocols followed by the Board, including Open Meeting laws. She also reminded the community that Canyons took an immense amount of criticism for creating guidelines that emphasized in-person learning last fall. She said Board members listen to the input of patrons. 

Ms.  Holly Neibaur said she appreciated so many patrons for attending and participating in Board meeting.  She encouraged community engagement and parent involvement in schools.  She also thanked Mr. Wilcox for the updates on the building construction.

Vice President Wrigley said he appreciated the comments by patrons and encouraged unity in the community in a time of widespread division nationally.  He said the District has made difficult decisions in the past year that, when made, faced immense scrutiny, but were later appreciated by patrons. He stated that the Board members are dedicated to doing what is best to provide a high-quality education for students.   

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