ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 News) — The Washington County School District is calling on parents to support Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s emergency order and work to bring COVID-19 cases down in an effort to ensure schools stay open, after cases in schools more than doubled over the past few weeks.

Months into the pandemic, school administrators say they’re still seeing hundreds of students each week showing up without a mask. On Monday, staff needed to provide approximately 100 masks in one school alone, according to the director of communications Steven Dunham.

“It’s frustrating,” Dunham said. “We would hope that, by this point in the school year, parents would be working with their children to have their mask before they come to school and encourage them to keep them on at school.”

As of Tuesday, 51 employees and 42 students are currently COVID-19 positive and recovering, while 481 additional students and staff have potentially been exposed and are quarantined.

“We’re seeing a lot more employees testing positive, and that’s a concern for us,” Dunham said. “If we don’t have the staff, it creates a problem keeping schools running and functioning properly.”

The Washington County School District said it’s grateful for healthcare providers and is doing everything it can to support them, now calling for younger populations to take the pandemic seriously and recognize that they are driving the gradual rise in cases that eventually spread to more vulnerable populations. Another significant problem, administrators say, is students coming to school when they’re sick.

“We need to encourage parents that if you or your children are ill at all, please stay home,” Dunham said. “It is for the wellbeing of our staff and other students that may be high risk.”

School administrators say their main goal is to keep schools open. Although no schools are currently threatened to shut down at this time, they say parents’ support would be very beneficial to slow cases down — needed urgently.

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