Data shows COVID-19 continues to infect Utah’s school-aged children

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – National data shows COVID-19 cases among school-age students continue to increase. This rise is also reflective of cases in Salt Lake County schools.

Wednesday the Salt Lake County Health Department (SLCHD) reports 945 students have tested positive for the virus in the last 14 days.

Data shows Canyons School District (CSD) has the only two schools in the county (as of Wednesday) that are close to the coronavirus threshold.

“We feel that students need to be in school and we’re going to put into place what we can to make sure we can safeguard that in-person learning,” said Jeff Haney, the district’s spokesperson.

Brighton High and Willow Springs Elementary schools are close to that mark. However, Haney said Willow Springs students are testing to stay Thursday.

With more than 34,000 students, county data shows 196 CSD students have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last two weeks.

When a school nears its threshold of cases, Haney said letters are sent home to parents.

“What it shows to us is when we send a vigilance letter home, that parents are talking with their students about the way they can wash their hands more, make sure they’re physically distanced, if the family wants to wear a mask then they mask up on the way to school,” he said.

And additional coronavirus prevention measures are put into place.

“As case counts continued to rise, we canceled assemblies, we postponed field trips, we ramped up our messaging about the importance of wearing masks at schools, we also went above and beyond in sanitizing areas in the school where kids would be on a daily basis,” he said.

Warning letters were sent home to Willow Springs Elementary’s parents on Sept. 29 and Oct. 1, which he shared with ABC4. Haney said a test-to-stay letter was emailed on Wednesday.

He said this is the first school in the district to implement test-to-stay.

Compared to last school year, SLCHD data shows student COVID-19 cases are nearly double that of last year.

But county health department spokesperson Nicholas Rupp said cases are beginning to slow down.

“For teenagers 12-to-17-years-old, we have seen a decline in cases in the last few weeks,” Rupp said. “And for elementary students, 5-11-year-olds, we’ve seen a decline and although there was a little blip of an increase very recently, but not as much as it had been weeks prior.”

And while cases appear to be trending down slightly, Rupp said prevention measures need to continue.

“We want people to continue wearing masks, we need to get vaccinated those who have not yet been vaccinated,” he said.

In Salt Lake County, Rupp said 57% of all 12-to-17-year-olds are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

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