Letter: Utah is not ready to reopen its schools

(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) Gov. Gary Herbert speaks at a news conference in Salt Lake City on Thursday, May 28, 2020.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Utah is increasing and so too is the number of Gov. Gary Herbert’s empty claims and assurances about the virus.

In a statement about all K-12 schools and colleges being expected to reopen in the fall, Herbert said, without offering supporting data, that he didn’t expect any setbacks and that “we are making progress.”

He also said, again without citing any data, that those areas still classified as “orange,” or moderate risk of spreading the virus — Salt Lake City, West Valley City, Magna, Grand County and parts of San Juan County — will join the rest of the state (which is “yellow” or low-risk) shortly, meaning schools in those areas will reopen in August.

Such empty rhetoric is not a sound basis for the reopening of schools. The Tribune reported on May 25 that both the number of positive cases of COVID-19 and the percentage of Utahns who tested positive have increased.

According to the White House’s Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, in order to reopen, states should have a downward trajectory, within a 14-day period, of documented COVID-19 cases or positive tests as a percent of total tests. We ignored that advice when most of the state moved to “yellow.” Are we going to completely flaunt it when it comes to sending our children back to school?

I’m not sending my daughter to school in the fall just because Herbert says we’re making progress. I need to see data that shows the virus is under control, a budget that allocates schools the resources needed to minimize risk and plans that demonstrate our leaders have put the necessary thought into what it will take to make schools safe for Utah’s children.

Laura Gee, Salt Lake City

Submit a letter to the editor

Return to Story