Masks will be required at Summit County elementary schools if student populations reach a 2% COVID-19 positivity rate

The Summit County Health Department issued a public health order using metrics outlined in the legislature’s “Test to Stay” program.

The Salt Lake Tribune

Elementary students at the seven K-6 schools in Summit County will be required to wear facemasks if their campus reaches a 2% COVID-19 positivity rate, the Summit County Health Department announced Saturday.

The order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday. Dr. Phil Bondurant, Summit County Health Director, issued a public health order with new requirements that he says will allow the health department to “actively monitor the situation and provide interventions before an outbreak occurs.” Officials will mandate facemasks be used at individual schools if the group of students, staff and faculty that attend the school passes the 2% positivity rate threshold over a 14-day period.

“We recognize there are very strong opinions on both sides of the mask discussion,” Bondurant said in a statement. “Ultimately, I want to provide the safest, healthiest learning environment in Summit County schools for the upcoming school year while allowing for parental choice.”

Health department officials used the “Test to Stay” program outlined in SB107 to determine the metrics outlined in the public health order, according to a news release. The “Test to Stay” program requires schools to implement testing among students if there are 30 or more active COVID-19 cases over a 14-day period.

“Masks are not a failproof solution to eliminate COVID-19,” Bondurant said. “However, it is well documented that masks are an effective strategy to minimize illness. In the end, our goal is to help keep kids in school and mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission until vaccines become available for children.”

Each of the seven elementary schools in Summit County will be evaluated as separate campuses, the news release states. The order will not apply to middle or high schools.

“The Summit County Council is committed to taking any necessary action available to us within the confines of the law to proactively protect students this school year,” Summit County Council Chair Glenn Wright said in a statement. “We support Dr. Bondurant’s approach and do not currently intend to consider termination of this public health order.”

Glenn said that the decision to require masks came after “careful consideration of the county’s legal authorities and recent public input.”

Utah legislation requires the order to be reviewed in 30 days. Summit County Health Department officials encouraged parents to follow the Center for Disease Control and Immunizations guidelines regarding mask usage proper sanitization practices and social interactions both in and out of school.

Summit County’s public health order comes days after mask mandates from both Grand County School District and Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall were announced earlier in the week.

Grand County School District announced on Thursday masks would be required indoors for elementary school students. Mendenhall released an emergency order Friday that requires masks for K-12 students.