Jordan District will shift 14 of its schools to virtual learning — some for a second or third time — as COVID-19 cases continue to spike among students and staff and the entire state.

The action taken by the district’s board of education Wednesday night is the most sweeping to come anywhere in Utah since most classrooms here reopened this fall despite the pandemic. And Jordan has been particularly hard hit by the virus with nearly 1,200 total cases, the highest of the districts in Salt Lake County.

With the new outbreaks, it also has now temporarily shut down the most schools of any district in the state.

“This has just been incredibly hard,” Jordan District board member Jen Atwood said during the virtual meeting. “We’re experiencing a COVID panic in our schools.”

She paused for a moment and added: “We’re at a tipping point.”

The board voted Wednesday to transition nine middle schools and five high schools to online learning until after Thanksgiving. None of the middle schools has closed before.

But all five of the high schools — Riverton, Bingham, Herriman, Mountain Ridge and West Jordan — have previously hit the 15 case threshold that the state health department suggests should trigger a two-week move to remote instruction. For Riverton High and Bingham High, this will be the third time.

The district has six traditional high schools. The sixth one, Copper Hills High, is already out for virtual learning after a closure earlier this month. It has also hit the threshold three times.

With those, Jordan District also sets a record for the most recurrences of schools needing to close again after an earlier outbreak.

The Utah Education Association said last week that back-and-forth is disruptive for students and that all secondary schools should go online through year’s end. The governor has not taken any action on the demand.

Davis School District also temporarily closed four more schools Wednesday — Davis High, Layton High, Woods Cross High and Shoreline Junior High — after they also reported outbreaks, even with new rapid testing coming on line there. Now, a total of seven schools in Davis have gone online, including two others last week.

Two more in Canyons School District, closed, too: Jordan High and Indian Hills Middle. A total of six schools have transitioned to virtual there.

That makes 20 schools in Utah to have gone virtual just Wednesday. And another five Thursday: Granite District’s Cottonwood High for a second time, Canyons District’s Alta High for a second time and Davis District’s Bountiful High and Viewmont High, and Weber District’s Orion Junior High.

Three more in Nebo School District hit the 15-case threshold but switched to a hybrid schedule of online and in-person classes.

Not counting those, a total of 25 have closed over the course of two days to go entirely remote. At least 37 now have shut their doors so far this month. And, overall, more than 65 statewide have done so since classes started in August.

While all five of the high schools in Jordan District discussed during the meeting hit the 15-case mark — with the biggest outbreak of 32 infections at Herriman High — some of the middle schools were closed preemptively. Six of the nine hadn’t hit the threshold yet, but were experiencing absentee and quarantine rates so high that the board determined it was too difficult to continue holding in-person classes. The district has a total of 12 middle schools.

At Copper Mountain Middle, for example, 12 students have tested positive. But 211 — or roughly 20% of the school — are out on quarantine for coming in close contact with a case in the classroom. Another 100 are regularly not showing up to school, likely out of fear of spread, Atwood said.

Similarly, at West Jordan Middle, which has 10 cases, roughly 30% to 40% of kids are absent each day. West Hills Middle is likewise at 37% absenteeism with 13 cases.

There are so many educators and administrators out, too, added board member Darrell Robinson, that staffing is an issue. “They’re having a difficult time covering for teachers who are out,” he said, with substitutes in short supply during the pandemic.

Many board members said educators throughout the district are feeling overwhelmed trying to instruct students in person and those on quarantine, as well as the kids who have opted to do their classes entirely online. “Absolutely there’s COVID burnout,” Atwood said.

Board member Matthew Young added: “They are being stretched too thin. I don’t feel it’s sustainable.”

Several of the decisions to close schools factored in that concern for staffing.

Only one school on the list of 15 that the board considered transitioning to online — Oquirrh Hills Middle — was allowed to continue with face-to-face learning. There are nine cases there, and Young said, “It’s looking like they will continue trending down.”

Elk Ridge Middle, which the board voted to close, had the most cases of a junior high in the district with 22 infections, as well as the most students and staff quarantined with 279.

Jordan School District’s board has generally favored keeping schools open, believing that in-person instruction is the best for students. In the past, too, it has chosen not to close schools, or to shut them down for only a few days, despite outbreaks. But the cases are increasing across the district, the county and the state.

And Jordan now accounts for 14% of the 8,678 school cases across Utah.

“None of this is easy,” Atwood said. “We have to act, though.”

Each of the schools that the board voted to move online on will have a slightly different schedule for when the transition begins. But all will run through Thanksgiving, with reopening in person anticipated for Nov. 30.

Here is a rundown of the schedules and case counts for the schools impacted in Jordan District:

• Bingham High: 31 cases, 271 on quarantine

The school will hold classes in person, as normal, on Thursday and have a regularly scheduled virtual day Friday. Students will then have a day off Monday and start with online-only classes Tuesday.

• Herriman High: 32 cases, 205 on quarantine

Students will have the day off Thursday and then start with online-only classes on Friday.

• Mountain Ridge High: 25 cases, 235 on quarantine

Students will begin Thursday with online-only classes.

• Riverton High: 25 cases, 149 on quarantine

The school will hold classes in person, as normal, Thursday and then start with online-only classes on Friday.

• West Jordan High: 17 cases, 70 on quarantine

The school will hold classes in person, as normal, Thursday and then start with online-only classes on Friday.

• Copper Mountain Middle: 12 cases, 211 on quarantine

Students will have Thursday off and then start virtual learning Friday.

• Elk Ridge Middle: 22 cases, 279 on quarantine

Students will have Thursday off and then start virtual learning Friday.

• Fort Herriman Middle: 13 cases, 113 on quarantine

Students will have Thursday off and then start virtual learning Friday.

• Hidden Valley Middle: 13 cases, 203 on quarantine

Students will have Thursday off and then start virtual learning Friday.

• Mountain Creek Middle: 11 cases, 111 on quarantine

Students will have Thursday off and then start virtual learning Friday.

Oquirrh Hills Middle: nine cases, 94 on quarantine

The school will not close. Instead, a letter will be sent to parents warning them of the smaller outbreak.

• South Jordan Middle: 15 cases, 90 on quarantine

Students will have Thursday off and then start virtual learning Friday.

• Sunset Ridge Middle: 15 cases, 109 on quarantine

Students will have Thursday off and then start virtual learning Friday.

• West Hills Middle: 13 cases, 275 on quarantine

Students will have Thursday off and then start virtual learning Friday.

• West Jordan Middle: 10 cases, 42 on quarantine

Students will have Thursday off and then start virtual learning Friday.