Two more high schools in Salt Lake County will temporarily stop in-person classes because of COVID-19 outbreaks among students and staff.
Both Granger High and Olympus High reported having 15 active cases of the coronavirus as of Wednesday. In response, Granite School District announced it would follow guidance from the Utah Department of Health to shut down for two weeks and shuffle students to online learning. That begins with classes Thursday.
“Our board of education is committed to abiding by the state and local health department guidance and recommendations,” said the district’s school board President Karyn Winder in a statement. “We are not inclined to disregard these scientifically based recommendations.”
The state health department has advised — but not required — that schools shift to remote instruction for two weeks if they surpass 15 active cases. The idea is to get past the incubation period of the virus and limit further spread.
But several school districts have ignored that recommendation.
So far, nine schools in the county have hit the 15-person infection threshold. Two have not shut their doors for the full two-week period that’s suggested. Those are Riverton High and Copper Hills High, each with 17 cases, in Jordan School District. Both briefly closed for cleaning before resuming classes in person again.
Corner Canyon High in Canyons School District also initially did not shut down after an outbreak there earlier this month. The school first reported hitting more than 15 cases on Sept. 11. At that time, the district’s board of education voted to move Corner Canyon High to a hybrid schedule, mixing online and in-person learning, in the hopes that the numbers would go down.
But they ballooned to more than 70 cases last week, and the board reversed its decision. Members voted to move the school online after all on Friday. That decision came after a popular teacher there was hospitalized. Charri Jensen’s daughter says she believes her mom contracted the disease from another educator who tested positive.
Following that, Canyons School District also decided this week to move Alta High, with 26 cases, and Brighton High, with 22, to online classes. That means three of its six high schools are temporarily virtual. And Draper Park Middle School crossed over 15 cases Tuesday and will also close for two weeks.
Additionally, one charter, American Preparatory’s Draper 1 campus, closed at the start of the month with an outbreak. It was the first in the state to hit the 15-case mark.
Granite School District, by comparison, has moved two of its eight traditional high schools online. Classes at Granger High — the largest high school in the state, with 3,300 students — and Olympus High will return in person on Oct. 8. And both schools will be closed for two days to everyone for a deep cleaning.
Teachers will be able to return after that, the district said, to provide distance education from their classrooms. “Safety for our students, their families, and employees will continue to be paramount above all else,” Winder added.
Extracurricular activities and sports will continue — with limitations — at the two closed Granite schools. The number of spectators allowed at events will be reduced. And if a team has three or more players testing positive, the team will be dismissed.
There have been 602 coronavirus cases tied to schools since they reopened across the state on Aug. 13. Wednesday saw the most new cases added to that total with 83, up from 519 total on Tuesday. So far, 13 patients have been hospitalized; none has died.
Here’s an overview of the schools in Salt Lake County that have had outbreaks and what each district has done in response:
Canyons School District
• Alta High: Closed Sept. 22 for two weeks of online learning.
• Brighton High: Closed Sept. 22 for two weeks of online learning.
• Corner Canyon High: Initially moved to a hybrid schedule on Sept. 11. But after cases continued to climb, it moved to all online for two weeks, starting Sept. 21.
• Draper Park Middle: Closed Sept. 28 for two weeks of online learning.
Granite School District
• Granger High: Closed Sept. 23 for two weeks of online learning.
• Olympus High: Closed Sept. 23 for two weeks of online learning.
Jordan School District
• Copper Hills High: Closed for one day for cleaning and returned, like normal, on Sept. 23.
• Riverton High: Closed for two days for cleaning and returned, like normal, on Sept. 21.
• American Preparatory Academy, Draper 1 campus: Closed Sept. 1 for two weeks of online learning.
Alpine School District
• Four schools in this district, the largest in the state, have reached the 15-person threshold recommended by the state. But none have closed. Alpine instead moved Timpanogos High, Lone Peak High, American Fork High and Orem High to a temporary hybrid schedule to mitigate the spread. It had previously done that with Pleasant Grove High when it got close, though it did not surpass 15 active cases.