The Alpine School District has told teachers and staff they have the option of keeping quiet about any potential exposure to COVID-19, so long as they don’t show any symptoms because the Health Department cannot enforce quarantine or mask-wearing. District officials say those guidelines are a draft version that was sent out mistakenly.
The draft guidelines were sent to employees via email on Wednesday evening. It laid out several possible courses of action in the case of a COVID-19 exposure. They include quarantining at home for 10 days or seven days with a negative test and no symptoms. Employees can also wear a mask in schools for 10 days or seven days with a negative test and no symptoms.
Employees are then told they have the choice of keeping information about a COVID exposure to themselves.
“The unwritten last option (if they are symptom-free) is to do nothing because the Health Department has no ability to enforce these guidelines,” it reads.
The memo goes on to say the safety of employees and students “remains a preeminent consideration,” and those who are sick should stay home. But, the memo also says students “are best served by the employee hired to do the job.” Symptom-free employees are urged to continue working, and there are no federal COVID-19 relief funds available to pay for absences.
A spokesperson for the Alpine District told The Tribune that the original document was sent in error and provided an updated version that makes no mention of the option of keeping a COVID exposure confidential. It was not clear if the new version had been provided to district employees as of Thursday afternoon.
On Wednesday, school-aged children made up one-quarter of all the new COVID-19 cases reported in Utah.
As of October 1, 2020, there were 80,953 students in the Alpine District. This year’s enrollment projection is just under 82,000 students.