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Utah’s governor: K-12 schools can return in the fall

(West High School, Salt Lake City. Credit: Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY– Utah Governor Gary Herbert says schools in cities designated as “low health risk,” in accordance with Utah’s phased health guidance plan, may return to the classroom in the fall. 

Governor Herbert issued an Executive Order on Wednesday briefly outlining the new guidelines.

The guidance for K-12 education addresses the resumption of school activities, including sports, under the jurisdiction of the district and school authorities in adherence to indoor and outdoor guidelines.

If schools follow these guidelines, classes, activities and sports can resume.

The new guidelines for Utah schools

There will be some changes to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. The Executive Order calls for hand sanitizer in every classroom and more hand washing. Faculty and staff will have to wear face masks when social distancing isn’t possible.

School districts have been contemplating what some of those changes could be.

For example, some students may be required to wear face masks. Additionally, there’s a possibility schools shift schedules, space out desks, and have lunch in the classroom to increase social distancing between students.

Remote learning may still happen for some students who are more at-risk or have at-risk family members.

“We are making progress and we can see that these recommendations are working,” Governor Herbert said in the news release. “I would like to express my gratitude to all who are taking these recommendations seriously, and stress that following these guidelines is crucial to ensuring the safety and health of us all.”

The governor’s statement said updates regarding face coverings for students will be provided by local school and charter boards in consultation with health department officials.

More information to come

The Utah State Board of Education (USBE) will hold a special meeting on Thursday, May 28 at 1 p.m. The meeting will be held strictly online.  

The Board’s meeting will focus on school reopening guidance for the fall.

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