SYRACUSE, Utah (ABC4) – The Davis School District has around 73,000 students. Yesterday, the school district held its first test-to-stay event at one of its elementary schools with nearly 900 students. This after the student body reached the COVID-19 threshold set by the state.
At Syracuse Elementary School, students play during recess after testing negative for COVID-19.
“We had high participation,” district spokesman Chris Willams tells ABC4.” Like, 85 percent of the parents gave permission for their students to be tested.”
Schools have to follow test to stay protocol set by the state once they hit a COVID-19 case threshold. “For any schools under 1,500 students that threshold is 30 students,” explains Williams. Syracuse has just under 900 students. For schools with more than 1,500 students, the threshold is two percent.
On Sunday, the district sent out a letter to parents saying testing may soon have to happen at Syracuse Elementary School as it neared the 30 student threshold. On Monday, the district confirmed the school did reach the threshold and on Tuesday, it held a test-to-stay event.
Williams says at the beginning of Tuesday, the case count had jumped up to 40 and at the end of the test-to-stay event, it had jumped up to 55. He adds, “that just goes to show the rate of infection that occurs.”
Students who test positive have to quarantine for 10 days or until the can provide a negative test. The same goes for students who aren’t tested during the test-to-stay event. Williams says more than a dozen parents did not give ther children permission to be tested at the school. Since Tuesday, some of those parents have had their children tested at other sites. The school district allows this. Parents of elementary-aged students are also allowed to attend the test-to-stay event to help alleviate any anxiety their child may have about being tested.
Williams says sending kids with COVID-19 home to quarantine resets the schools COVID case count. This is considered a soft closure because the students who test negative for the illness get to stay in class.
“While the teacher is going to still be in front of the classroom teaching, they still have to be concerned with the kids who are not in school,” Williams tells ABC4.
For students who are quarantining because they did not get tested or because they are positive with COVID-19, teachers will be responsible for keeping them up-to-date on their learning through online resources.
The district will provide a small compensation to the teachers for their additional work. The compensation differs in value based on what grade-level the employee teaches. “Is it anywhere close to paying them for the amount of time they’re spending who’s homesick?” Williams asks. “No, but it’s a start,” he answers. He tells ABC4 the district has allotted $500,000 for the compensations paid to teachers. He says this could go up to $1,000,000 depending on how the school year goes. This money, he says all comes from federal aid.
According to the Davis County Health Department, roughly 30 percent of the eligible population has not started the vaccine series yet. As COVID-19 cases rise in school-aged kids, this is concerning for more than one reason. The health department’s director Brian Hatch adds, “We still have all of the kids that aren’t eligible for the vaccine. That’s why that’s concerning there.”
The health department and school district are encouraging all who are eligible to get vaccinated to help keep kids in school. “Let’s just hope the numbers don’t go up, so that’s the situation that we’re in,” Williams adds.
The school district will be sending out a letter to parents this week as a second school will have to hold a test-to-stay event on this coming Friday.