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Parents give out masks along SLC School District, call for students to go back to class

(The football stadium at West High School, one of the schools where masks were distributed. Credit: Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY – Masks by the thousands are handed out by a group of parents in the Salt Lake City School District calling on the district to reconsider its requirements for letting students return.

Parents and other volunteers handed out packets of masks to families at over 20 different school locations across the district.  Organizer Mary Catherine Perry says COVID-19 is a very real and truly scary disease, and the recent spike in cases has their group very concerned.  At the same time, she says so many parents are at their wits end with the district’s online-only learning plan.  So, they figure the best thing the can do is pass out masks to prevent the spread of the virus.

“We don’t know how else to make that happen other than to help get these cases down,” Perry says.

(Some of the masks being handed out by Perry and other volunteers at West High School. Credit: Paul Nelson)

Currently, the board has only planned to continue with online-only learning through the first quarter, which ends early November.  However, district officials say they’re planning to discuss their plans in their meeting in early October, and the superintendent will formally present new information he received from the Salt Lake County Health Department. 

District officials tell KSL that if the numbers are good enough, they may reconsider their plans and brings students back in phases.  For example, since coronavirus transmission rates are lower among young children, elementary school kids might be able to return as long as health officials believe it’s safe.  That’s a plan Perry fully supports.

She says, “Perhaps our district and our board could consider rolling [students] into small groups, young elementary kids up through middle school, maybe.  Eventually, up to the high school, if we can get our numbers down.”

However, she doesn’t believe some of the requirements the district established for students’ return can even be met.

“We don’t do asymptomatic testing in Utah.  So, to get a positivity rate below five percent is almost impossible,” Perry says, adding, “The metrics that the district and the board have adopted for a safe return to school are so strict that, likely, that wouldn’t happen until 2022.”

Other parents say remote learning is letting kids and families down.  One parent states that low-income families never received the equipment needed for online classes.

“Even in best-case scenarios, parents have become the teachers and taskmasters of their children’s education—something they are not trained in nor can they do effectively,” one parent writes.



How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronaviruses transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States