2 Utah schools face pushback after emails saying children with COVID-19 were 'allowed to return' to class - Market News
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2 Utah schools face pushback after emails saying children with COVID-19 were ‘allowed to return’ to class

2 Utah schools face pushback after emails saying children with COVID-19 were 'allowed to return' to class

The emails were sent to parents in the Davis School District. Health officials quickly refuted the message, saying those with COVID should isolate.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Layton High School pictured Sept. 18, 2021. An email from the principal there and from Woods Cross High in Davis School District told parents on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2022, that they are sending their children to school, even if they tested positive this week. The district later sent a statement to reverse course.

Parents are outraged after two Utah high schools sent a message Thursday night saying that students who tested positive for the coronavirus this week could still attend class.

The Davis School District changed course shortly after 9 p.m., about two hours after the school emails were sent, causing confusion and outrage in the meantime.

The district said in its updated statement that it finally decided, after “further consultation with state leaders and health department officials,” that students who tested positive would not be allowed to attend school on Friday.

Screenshots of the first, nearly identical emails from Layton High and Woods Cross High were originally shared via social media, with many branding them irresponsible and noting that they contradicted medical guidelines.

“The answer is no,” Jenny Johnson, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Health, said late Thursday. pointing to government guidelines for schools. “If you test positive, the guideline is that you stay at home for at least five days.”

(Screenshot) Sent an email to parents at Woods Cross High on Thursday, January 14, 2022.

The emails from the two Davis School District schools came in for hours after state leaders suspended the Test to Stay program earlier today, citing a shortage of testing supplies. Under that program, schools were required to test all students with parental consent once campuses reached the state-designated outbreak threshold. That is set to 2% of a student body in a school of about 1,500 children, or, for those with fewer students, 30 confirmed cases of the virus.

Those who tested negative through the Test to Stay program were able to continue taking the class in person. Those who tested positive or refused to test were ordered to stay home for five days; when they returned, they were required to wear masks for the next five days, according to updated isolation guidelines.

But in their first message to parents on Thursday evening, the directors of Layton High and Woods Cross High said that because the state dropped the program, participation and results of the Test to Stay events at the two schools could no longer be maintained this week. .

The email read: “Students who tested positive or declined testing may return to school and participate in activities starting tomorrow, Friday, January 14.”

The phrase “shall be allowed to return” was in bold, similar to an earlier email first sent to faculty and staff.

(Screenshot) An email sent to Layton High staff before the same information was sent to parents on Thursday, January 14, 2022.

After that, the emails encouraged those who showed symptoms to stay home.

But Johnson of the Utah Department of Health said isolating after a positive test isn’t optional. The state follows the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which state that a positive test means a student is banned from school for at least five days.

“It says very clearly that anyone who tests positive should stay at home,” Johnson added.

The spokesperson for Davis School District did not answer a call from The Salt Lake Tribune late Thursday. In the updated statement sent after 9 p.m., Davis Superintendent Reid Newey instead said, “Students who tested positive or refused to test during the Test to Stay event must remain in isolation for a minimum of five days.” Such students should not return to school until Wednesday, he added.

Davis County Health Department also noted that those who have COVID-19 are expected to isolate.

“From a public health perspective, our advice – and one we will always follow – is that if you are sick and symptomatic, you should stay home,” spokesperson Trevor Warner said late Thursday.

After the first emails were sent, parents and educators took to social media. One parent wrote, “I’m speechless,” calling the guidance “outrageous.”

Another parent also noted that her son’s school, Woods Cross High, saw more than 180 students test positive for COVID-19 at a recent Test to Stay event there. And another noted that more than 200 kids tested positive at the Layton High event this week.

“I can’t get my head around this,” said another parent.

Six high schools in the Davis School District reached the outbreak threshold this week: Woods Cross, Layton, Viewmont, Bountiful, Davis and Clearfield. In addition, seven primary and secondary schools have also had outbreaks, according to the district dashboard.

It is unclear whether the same initial guidance was sent to parents at those schools on Thursday evening.

In general, the state has seen a spike in school cases this week, which prompted state leaders to let school districts go online for a week, if necessary, to deal with outbreaks.

Nicholas Rupp, the spokesperson for the Salt Lake County Health Department, said anyone with COVID-19 is considered contagious two days before symptoms start and at least five days after. However, as long as someone has symptoms, such as a fever, they should continue to isolate themselves. The best guidance is to stay at home for 10 days, he said.

But the CDC recently the guidance updated, advising that only five days minimum is recommended for isolation.

Speaking generally about the guidelines, since Davis is not his jurisdiction, Rupp added, “Children who have tested positive to personally learn within five days of that positive test is against state guidelines and the recommendation from the CDC.”