Box Elder Co. schools ready to open, some parents wary

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BRIGHAM CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Box Elder County plans to open the doors to public school students this August. There are currently 262 cases of COVID-19 in Box Elder County. 

“Elementary kids aren’t the cleanest, so I could only imagine with this going around, how fastly that will spread,” said Jessica Beal, a mother in Brigham City.

Beal says she feels more comfortable keeping her children home, taking online classes for now.

“A lot of kids aren’t going to keep their masks on for that long period of time, I mean just the short time going to the grocery store, my kids have a hard time keeping them on,” said Beal.

“It just like makes behind my ears itchy and it’s a bit tight,” said elementary student, Lyric Beal.

This is a common concern from parents, according to the superintendent, Steve Carlsen.

“Our hope is, is that we can provide a time during every hour, where the student doesn’t have to have a mask on,” said Carlsen.

Carlsen says the health of kids and teachers are important, but children have fallen behind academically.

“If we wait another two or three months, we could be having kids, you know if you’re a 4th grader, you might have dropped some of your reading skills, certainly some of your math skills, cuz’ that’s a tough one, maybe two or three years,” said Carlsen.

“We have a choice to do one trimester online and then go back to school if we feel comfortable, or continue to go online for the second and third trimester,” said Beal.

Box Elder County public schools will open August 31, with 4 hour days for the first two weeks.

“In Box Elder Co. we only have 25% of our buildings that have AC, so every Fall, we really have a problem with our AC,” said Carlsen.

Beal says this first trimester at home will be a test run for her kids and if the schools don’t have any outbreaks, she says she’ll consider sending them back to their classrooms.

“I want to go back to school and play with all my friends,” said Lyric.

Carlsen says with 800 thousand dollars from the CARES Act, the district has purchased new cleaning equipment, materials to prevent the spread of germs and training for staff.

“We’re a little more rural, so we haven’t been hit as hard as some of the urban down south of us, so we’re really excited to get kids back in school,” said Carlsen.

Carlsen says the district will be ready to make necessary changes if there is an outbreak and get those children to learn from home.

Jordan Verdadeiro
She is a multilingual multimedia journalist. Fluent in Spanish, Portuguese and English. Jordan was born and raised in New Jersey and comes from a Chilean and Portuguese background and hopes to tap into the diverse communities that range in northern Utah.
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