SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – School districts have less than a month to finalize plans to have kids go back to school. Each district will need to have an approved plan that is posted to their website by August 1st, 2020.

ABC4 News found parents like Sherrie who has a daughter at Jordan School District, want to see their kids back in school.

“I think that it is hurting them socially, and I think it is hurting them mentally,” she said. “I mean if wearing a mask and being six feet away works for going to the grocery store, then why not do it at school.”

With more than 60,000 students and roughly 3,000 teachers, the Jordan School Board President Bryce Dunford says social distancing is an obstacle.

“I have never seen a more polarizing issue than this one right now and how do we open schools,” he said. “We are offering an at-home option both for teachers and for students.

The Jordan School District is not eliminating recess or lunchroom gatherings.

“We are going to do our very best to keep children as safe as we possibly can, and yet allow them to have an in-person school experience,” Dunford said. “We think education is important.”

Students in the band, choir, or physical education will go through additional safety measures in the district.

“We will do a non-contact temperature check at those, and if anyone starts showing symptoms of the virus, we would ask them to go to the quarantine room until someone can come to pick them up,” he adds.

The quarantine rooms are new to the district and will be in place at each district school in the 2020-2021 school year.

The school district won’t be requiring students to wear masks.

“We are asking every student to wear a mask. We are not going to enforce it, we are not going to mandate it,” said Dunford.

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And when it comes to riding a district buss Dunford adds, “If a student shows up without one, we will hand them a mask. If they refuse to wear it, we are not going to deny them the opportunity to ride the bus.”

Canyons School District and the Salt Lake City School District plans show educators won’t enforce a mask mandate on their students either.

Teachers within the districts tell ABC4 News, it’s too hard to keep masks on early elementary students.

All of the Districts we spoke with say they’ll use the opportunity to educate students but they won’t deny students a learning opportunity.

Some school districts like Jordan School District will see a four-days in class and one day on digital learning. The digital learning day will allow teachers to tutor students who fell behind, or for the districts to sanitize the schools.

When asked if connectivity was an issue, Dunford said the district boosted it’s wifi capabilities.

“So anyone should be able to go to at least the parking lot near the front door and have access to the internet,” he said. “We feel like we will be able to meet the needs of children who want to and choose to be at home.”

Each school district has told ABC4 News, these plans hinge on the COVID-19 case counts and how the health departments will guide each school district.

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Jason Nguyen
Jason Nguyen is an award-winning reporter and photojournalist who is back with ABC4 News as the lead reporter on Good Morning Utah, bringing over a decade of news experience to the team.