In keeping with changes in Utah law and coronavirus reporting, Canyons District has created step-by-step guidance for when pandemic-related safety or operational challenges would warrant petitioning state leaders to temporarily move a school to remote learning.
Under the “Operational Capacity Action Plan,” Canyons will continue to closely track rates of COVID-19 cases in schools while also taking into consideration the operational capacity of schools: absentee rates of students and employees and the ability to find substitute workers to support critical school functions.
This blanket surveillance approach aims to account for all indicators of COVID-19 in determining the surgical, site-based actions needed to slow its spread, while supporting the District’s stated commitment to preserving in-person instruction. The plan comes in direct response to:
- The Salt Lake County Health Department’s decision to change the COVID-19 incubation period from 14 to seven days. The department’s COVID-19 dashboard now shows the number of school-related cases confirmed in the past seven days.
- The state’s suspension of Test to Stay requirements and Legislature’s passage of HB183, which requires state approval to move a school into Remote Learning for more than one day a week.
In January, state leaders suspended Test to Stay due to a shortage of testing supplies and the inability of rapid tests to detective the omicron variant soon enough in the transmission cycle to effectively slow transmission. As a substitute, to respond to the fast-spreading omicron variant, Canyons called for an emergency Remote-Learning Day on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022.
Since that time, there has been a marked drop in COVID-19 cases in the Canyons community and throughout Salt Lake County. Student attendance is improving, and schools are seeing fewer employees missing work for personal or health reasons.
Based on these trends, the District is adopting the following tiered levels of response:
TIER II Response
Effective Wednesday, Feb. 2, all CSD schools will return to “Tier II” status, which means: students and employees will be strongly encouraged to wear masks and stay home when they are sick; and schools will undergo twice-weekly cleaning and disinfection, document visits by volunteers, and hold shortened assemblies.
TIER III Response
A school will move to Tier III status if it reaches the COVID-19 case-count thresholds spelled out in HB183 and a 5 percent absenteeism rate among its employees. Parents will be immediately notified of the school’s operational challenges and implementation of the following mitigation strategies:
- Students and employees strongly encouraged to stay home when sick, and wear face masks while at school
- Information circulated about available mental health supports
- Limitation of assemblies, field trips, and dances
- Increased co-horting to student groups at elementary schools
- Limitation of volunteers and visitors to buildings
- Set air flow in buildings to “occupied” settings throughout the day
- Additional cleaning and sanitizing where possible
- Postponement of all District professional development
After five calendar days in Tier III, additional action will be taken if the school meets three of four conditions: 10 percent of teachers are absent; a critical shortage of support staff; an average student attendance rate of 70 percent or less; and COVID-19 cases remain at or above the thresholds described in HB183. If the minimum number of conditions are met:
- The Administration will notify the Canyons Board of Education that the school will be placed in “monitored status” for up to five calendar days. Parents will also be notified and informed of next steps.
- At the end of five calendar days, if the school remains in diminished operational capacity, the Administration will ask the Board to seek from the state a variance for a remote-learning schedule for three school days or a five-day pause (including holidays, weekends, no-student days, already-established remote learning days).
Also, due to declining demand for COVID-19 testing, Canyons District will be operating its courtesy drive-thru testing clinic less frequently. Starting Monday, Feb. 7, employees and students who have symptoms can obtain free testing in the garage at the Canyons District Office (9361 S. 300 East, Sandy) twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays. An updated schedule can be found at canyonsdistrict.org.