As the chilly fall weather blows into the Wasatch Front — and the yearly cold and flu season begins to heat up — Canyons District families are encouraged to redouble their efforts, especially in this era of COVID-19, to do daily health checks before bundling up and heading out the door for school.
“Unfortunately, we have had several children with fever, cough, or other COVID symptoms attend school and expose their classmates and school personnel to illness,” said Dr. Dagmar Vitek, Medical Director of the Salt Lake County Health Department, in a statement announcing the availability of new school-level data on the county’s COVID-19 dashboard. “Anyone with COVID symptoms needs to isolate at home.”
County health authorities, who work with school nurses to conduct contact tracing of “school-associated cases,” also report that several children in Salt Lake County schools have attended classes while they were supposed to be quarantined because they had been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
“We will not be successful in controlling the spread of COVID if community members do not follow public health’s recommendations,” said Dr. Vitek. “If we, as a community, want to continue in-person schooling, it is essential that people who are ill or have been exposed stay home until they complete their isolation or quarantine.”
A school-associated case is a person with COVID who attended or visited a K–12 school or school-related event during a time in which they could have caught or transmitted COVID to or from another individual. Not all school-associated cases originated in a school setting — but all presented an exposure risk in a school or at a school-related event, according to the health department. Disease prevention precautions such as consistently and correctly wearing face coverings significantly decrease the exposure risk at school, home or the workplace.
A data dashboard at SaltLakeHealth.org, which is maintained by the health authorities that receive the most up-to-date results of tests and are responsible for communicating matters of public health, now includes a slide with data on school-associated cases.
A graphic on the Canyons District website will direct visitors to the county dashboard.
The school slide will show:
- The total number of cases in each school district, private school and charter school in the county
- The total number of cases in each type of school (high school, middle school, elementary, combined K-12, or “other” for special education and technical campuses)
- Individual schools with cases and whether the school has met the case threshold of 15 or more that triggers the recommendation to move to all-virtual instruction
People who have been within six feet of someone with the novel coronavirus for 15 minutes or more should quarantine and watch for symptoms for 14 days after their last exposure to the positive person. During quarantine, they should not leave home for any reason, except when advised by a health care provider to seek medical care in person. People in quarantine should not go to work or any public place, including stores, malls, theaters, restaurants or any other retail establishment. They should not visit family or friends or have any visitors at their home.
Health officials encourage anyone with any COVID symptom to be tested by finding a test site near them at coronavirus.utah.gov. Testing is widely available and there is no cost to the patient being tested.
People waiting for test results who are symptomatic should remain isolated until they receive their results. People waiting for test results who do not have symptoms should remain quarantined for their full 14-day quarantine period in case they were tested before symptoms appeared.
Symptomatic people who choose not to be tested will be treated as positive for isolation-release purposes. They will not be cleared to return to work or school earlier if they do not get tested—there is no benefit for an individual not to be tested.
Canyons District’s COVID-19 manual, which was sent to parents via email and can be accessed on the CSD website, outlines the steps Canyons will take in the event of positive, confirmed cases in a single classroom or at one school. No schools in Canyons District have been recommended for virtual-learning-only as a result of multiple COVID-19 cases.