SALT LAKE CITY – Classes in the Salt Lake City School District will be completely online when the school year starts September 8th.
However, the district is looking to slowly phase-in on-campus learning when COVID-19 cases start to drop.
The school board voted 6-1 for the plan during their meeting Thursday evening, with many saying protecting students and staff was their overriding concern.
The Salt Lake City School District is the only district in Utah so far that is starting the school year totally online.
Interim Superintendent Larry Madden acknowledged during a news conference after the vote that some wanted classes on campus.
“Our goal is to maintain a balance between the health and safety of our students and an excellent education. The plan may be altered as health conditions change,” Madden said.
If Salt Lake County’s average positive test rate for COVID-19 gets below 5% for seven consecutive days, Madden said they will probably move to a hybrid of on campus and online learning. This could happen as soon as October.
The goal would be to eventually hold all classes at school, though the online-only option would be available for some families.
September 8th is two weeks later than the district normally starts, but both teachers and students will still be busy.
“Teachers are going to administer tests to children in that two week period, so we can look at learning gaps. It’ll allow teachers time to set up meetings with individual students and families, and make personal connections that we know are vital to being successful in this online environment,” Madden said.
He also stressed that student services, like free lunches, would still be available.
To prepare for online classes, the district will be handing out 20,000 laptops and iPads, as well as hundreds of internet hotspots, to families. They will also be checking to see if the student’s internet works.
Madden also confirmed that sports teams can play this year, though no fans will be in the stands for the home games.
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