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‘We can do it in 5 minutes’: Governor Cox will sign bill giving state’s top leaders final say on schools going remote

Jan 27, 2022, 6:54 AM | Updated: 11:45 am
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Rachel Perry listens to her teacher on her computer as she and her sister Charlotte Perry, attend school on their computers at home in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Spencer Cox said he will sign a newly passed bill that lays out how a school can go remote amid omicron.

Cox spoke exclusively to KSL NewsRadio, detailing that he will sign H.B. 183, which also suspends the test-to-stay program in Utah’s schools.

The bill requires that the state’s four top leaders — Cox, the state superintendent, Senate president, and House speaker — all agree on whether schools can go remote after they’ve hit a certain threshold of cases. However, it doesn’t specify how quickly they need to respond to requests from school districts.

Among other requirements, local school boards must also hold a public vote to give their approval before those state leaders weigh in.

When asked how schools can know top leaders will reply quickly to their requests to go remote, Governor said, “We’ve been doing it for a year, they can talk to any district. We can do it in 5 minutes.”

Cox argued that the process set up in H.B. 183 is not new, but some districts worry it’s all too cumbersome with Omicron’s surge. However, the governor said having these four leaders decide on schools going remote is easier than calling the legislature back into session.

Cox added that this bill comes from suggestions of health officials explicitly for the conditions the omicron variant has created.

The governor also says the legislature has the authority to decide how schools go remote, adding it’s “theirs to use.”

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‘We can do it in 5 minutes’: Governor Cox will sign bill giving state’s top leaders final say on schools going remote