Canyons District will follow a comprehensive and evidence-driven Back-to-School Action Plan to maintain safe and welcoming learning environments in the 2021-2022 school year.
The aim of CSD’s strategic and layered approach, which is put into place as the global COVID-19 health crisis is addressed at local levels, is to safeguard student wellness while also ensuring that students are provided access to a high-quality education and related services.
To directly — but strategically — address wellness and academic issues, Canyons’ plan:
- Follows state law and current health order;
- Is based on the most-recent COVID-19 surveillance data provided by health officials;
- Ramps up safety and health protocols if case counts increase in a school community;
- Mirrors the cleaning and sanitation efforts of the previous school year;
- Stresses the importance of keeping students in school and engaged in learning.
As CSD started the year on Monday, Aug. 16, parents could choose to enroll their children in either in-person or online classes. Students who opted to participate in the inaugural year of Canyons Online, the remote-learning option for students of all ages, also are granted access to in-person extracurricular activities at both the elementary and secondary levels.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools, says Canyons Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins, Canyons is dedicated to sanitary schools. Not only have CSD buildings been equipped with air filtration system that use electrostatic charges to remove fine particles from the air, but custodians will continue to scour buildings throughout the day and evening with hospital-grade detergents. Hand-sanitizer will be available in classrooms and hallways, and touchless water fountains have been installed, Robins said. Hand-washing will be strong encouraged, too.
Dr. Robins, who remains in constant communication with the Salt Lake County Health Department, as well as local medical experts, reassures the CSD community that myriad safety protocols are in place for the safety of students and employees. Robins also noted that the District is awaiting on guidance regarding masks on school buses. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control calls for masks on public transit, including school buses, but the CDC policy may conflict with the state law that prohibits mask wearing if in-person instruction is provided.
CSD’s plan calls for physical distancing where feasible. Outdoor learning spaces will be used when possible. Students also have assigned seats and co-horting is encouraged in an effort to aid any contact-tracing efforts of the Salt Lake County Health Department, which will decide close-contacted exposures in CSD schools.
Dr. Robins also said that, while a new state law prohibits any Utah school district from enforcing a mask mandate on its own, a high rate of CSD employees — 73 percent — participated in last year’s CSD COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics. Vaccination clinics were held last year for age-eligible students who had parent permission.
Additionally, CSD’s plan says that, regardless of vaccination status, students who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate at home for 10 days from the test date, Robins said. Students in isolation can access their schoolwork on Canvas, CSD’s online-learning management tool.
Health authorities say that vaccinated students or students who have had COVID-19 within 90 days of a close-contact exposure can continue with studies uninterrupted. It’s recommended that non-vaccinated students quarantine at home for 10 days and access education via Canvas or continue attending with a mask.
A student would not be considered exposed if both parties were wearing masks at the time of possible exposure, the plan states. A student also would not be considered exposed if they had been diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 90 days, according to health authorities. 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.
Testing for COVID-19 is encouraged for those with symptoms. CSD will provide testing for students, employees Mondays and Thursdays from 6:30-8:30 a.m., starting Aug. 23 at the District Office, 9361 S. 300 East. CSD nurses will oversee effort.
State law provides that if positive case counts reach 2 percent at a school, with 1,500 or more students, a “Test to Stay” event will be held. At CSD schools with fewer than 1,500 students, if there are 30 or more cases, then the school will conduct a “Test to Stay.”
If a student tests positive at a Test to Stay, they will isolate for 10 days. If they test negative, they remain at school. If parents choose to not allow their child to be tested, the child will quarantine for 10 days unless they can provide a negative rapid-antigen test result from a medical facility. No testing will be done without the consent of parent. Please complete the registration form prior to the student’s COVID rapid test.
Robins said that Canyons will take decisive action to curb COVID-19 spread if schools reach a certain threshold. Letters that alert the community to the rising case counts, as well as statements that strongly encourages mask wearing and vaccinations, will be sent when specific thresholds are met, Dr. Robins said. He also said the letter will encourage those who are experiencing symptoms to stay home and access education via Canvas. Student-attendance rules have been relaxed for another year, he said.
Canyons District’s ramped-up “vigilance actions” may be taken when schools of 1,500 or more students reach a 1 percent case count and ZIP code positive rates are going up. If schools with fewer than 1,500 students have 15 or more cases, plus are experiencing increases in the ZIP code, then the vigilance actions may be taken.
The Superintendent also said the District Administration may pause or limit assemblies, field trips dances, volunteers, crowds at activities, and small-group instruction if case counts start to go up in a specific school community. “It’s important to note that every school community is unique and should be treated as such,” Dr. Robins.
Robins also noted the re-launch of the COVID-19 Data Dashboard on the CSD website. An online portal also has been created by CSD so parents, students and employees can directly send in concerns or comments.