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September 27, 2021

COVID-19 in Utah: Will my school district require or encourage masks?

Students at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School in South Salt Lake wear masks as they get on a bus to go home after their
first day of school on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020. School districts are announcing their policies for returning to class this fall. ( Scott G Winterton,
Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — After leaders with the Utah Department of Health on Monday announced they are recommending all K-12 students wear masks indoors and encouraging everyone ages 12 and older to get vaccinated, here’s what school districts have said about their plans for returning to the classroom.

The Utah Legislature passed a ban on school districts or the Board of Education requiring face masks in schools during a special session in May. Under the bill, schools and teachers can encourage mask-wearing, but they can’t legally mandate it to attend or participate in in-person instruction, athletics or other extracurricular activities during the upcoming school year. Only counties can now implement mask mandates.

  • Granite School District officials say they are awaiting final guidance on COVID-19 protocols from local and state health departments before deciding on health guidelines.

“Regardless, we highly encourage mask-wearing in our schools in accordance with CDC guidance. Additionally, Granite continues to share information on vaccination opportunities, and we anticipate hosting additional vaccine clinics for our community throughout the remainder of the summer and fall,” leaders said in a statement posted on the district’s website.

  • Davis School District will follow “test to stay” protocols, holding a coronavirus testing event if 2% of students and staff for a school of more than 1,500 people, or 30 students and staff for a school of 1,500 or less, test positive for the disease.

Face masks are not currently required in schools, officials noted, but students and faculty members can wear face masks if they choose, district officials said in a letter to parents. The district is also encouraging parents to consider vaccines for their children over 12.

  • At Washington County School District, “students and staff will be welcome to wear masks if they choose, but they will not be required,” Superintendent Larry Bergeson said in a letter to parents, emphasizing that staff members and parents “can decide what is best for their families.”

He said the district will strictly enforce bullying standards “as students and parents choose whether or not to wear masks at school.” But Bergeson urged parents to keep students home if sick, or if someone in their household has COVID-19. They need to stay home for 10 days unless they are fully vaccinated.

The district will also not impose quarantine or test-to-stay guidelines, he added. But if a case is confirmed in a student’s class, parents will get notified. If 30 or more students at the same school contract the virus, “students may be required to provide a negative test result to remain in school,” the superintendent said.

  • Alpine School District officials have said that students will attend school in person five days per week, and no mask requirements or test-to-play guidelines will be in place.

“Classroom teachers will provide in-person learning and will no longer support both in-person and exclusively remote students,” officials said in a back-to-school announcement on the district’s website.

  • Salt Lake City School District is strongly encouraging face masks and for everyone eligible over age 12 to get vaccinated. But students’ and employees’ decision about whether or not to wear a mask “will be respected,” according to district leaders. Students and employees will not be asked if they have been vaccinated “unless needed as part of contact tracing and quarantine efforts,” officials said.

“The district will be partnering with the Salt Lake County Health Department to provide COVID-19 vaccination clinics for our families and the community at large. … For families with children too young to be vaccinated yet, everyone eligible around them needs to be vaccinated,” according to the district website.

  • Cache County School District leaders aren’t strongly encouraging masks but say they “welcome anyone who chooses to wear a mask while attending school to do so.”

“We will be working closely with the Bear River Health Department on a school by school basis to monitor local cases, respond proactively to positive COVID-19 cases in our schools, and take appropriate measures to keep students and staff safe. This will include asking individuals who have tested positive to isolate and informing parents of positive cases in school or classrooms so they can monitor their children for any symptoms,” according to the district’s website.

  • Leaders with Ogden School District noted they are working on their plan to return to school safely, and the plan “must take into account” the Utah Department of Health’s recommendations on Monday, including that all students wear masks indoors.

Canyons and Jordan school districts have not yet publicly released their plans.

This article could be updated as more school districts release their guidelines for the new school year.

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