OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) – Teachers and students are getting ready to go back to school across the Beehive State. As COVID-19 cases remain high, health officials and school leaders in Northern Utah want parents to know what they can do to keep their children in school all while keeping them safe.
“There are a lot of things up in the air as far as what might happen, what could happen, things changing day to day,” Ogden School District Director of Communications Jer Bates tells ABC4 at a recent vaccine clinic hosted by the school district.
The school district welcomes teachers next week and students shortly after. While many questions remain about what the school year will end up looking like, officials want parents to have some peace of mind as they send their children back to class.
“One thing we do know is getting vaccinated helps protect you against the COVID-19 virus, it helps prevent the spread of the virus, and it’s going to help reduce potential disruptions to school,” Bates adds.
The Utah State Board of Education recently set some new guidelines for the school year. One of these guidelines outlines that students who are vaccinated and are exposed to COVID-19 will no longer be required to quarantine.
“That means that kid gets to stay in school and keep learning,” explains to ABC4. For the district, these new guidelines are going to be useful in reducing “potential disruptions to school.”
The district has about 12,000 students. According to Bates, about 45% are secondary students and 55% are elementary students. Currently, children under the age of 12 cannot be vaccinated, which is a large portion of the district’s student population.
As COVID cases remain high across the state, the local health district continues to remind people the importance of slowing the spread, especially as kids go back to school. Weber-Morgan Health Department Communicable Disease and Epidemiology Nurse Amy Carter says we already know how to slow the spread.
“(By) going back to some of those tools of wearing masks when it’s appropriate, really paying attention to watching for your symptoms, and knowing if you have any symptoms of illness, staying home,” she adds.
The Weber-Morgan Health Department is not issuing a mask mandate at this time. Carter emphasizes the importance of every individual to help slow the spread. She adds, “It’s just a matter of us making a choice to use those tools.”
State guidelines also allow for unvaccinated students to remain in class if they’ve come into contact with a case of the virus, as long as they wear a mask at school.