SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – On the eve of releasing COVID guidelines for K-12 schools, Utah’s Department of Health is pushing for those eligible to get vaccinated and recommending those who are not to mask up in school.
A health department spokesperson told ABC4 the guidelines are still being finalized, but will include a recommendation that students 12 and up get vaccinated. If not, or if they are younger, the recommendation is to wear a mask in school.
State law prevents a mask mandate in schools, and the Dept. of Health says they’re not recommending a mandate. Spokesperson Jenny Johnson says the message this year is to get vaccinated if you are eligible.
But outbreaks, officials have told ABC4, are inevitable.
So what to do in the case of exposure?
The Dept. of Health recommends unvaccinated students who are exposed to COVID quarantine for 10 days with the option of a test after seven days. If the test is negative, the unvaccinated student can return.
But unlike last year, it’s expected that school districts across the state might push back against this recommendation. Johnson says discussions are ongoing across the state.
“Is that possible? Is the community willing to do it? Is it what politically we can do? What are the pressures and do we make adjustments?” said Johnson.
The guidelines are expected to be presented Thursday to the Utah School Superintendents Association.
Heidi Matthews is president of the Utah Education Association. She told ABC4 Wednesday that the teachers she represents are looking for clear guidance based on science, not politics.