Jordan District moves 14 schools online due to high absenteeism, uptick in COVID-19 cases

Riverton High School cleaning crews spray tables and chairs in an effort to battle the coronavirus pandemic on Sept. 17, 2020.

Riverton High School cleaning crews spray tables and chairs in an effort to battle the coronavirus pandemic on Sept. 17, 2020. | Doug Flagler, Jordan School District

Board members say pausing in-person learning at middle schools, high schools could help teacher fatigue, high absenteeism and climbing case counts

RIVERTON — Fourteen of Jordan School District’s middle schools and high schools will move to online learning, returning to in-person learning at the end of the month.

Meeting in a “special meeting,” the Jordan School Board voted Wednesday to pivot to virtual learning at most schools due to growing numbers of COVID-19 cases, high rates of absenteeism and growing numbers of students and employees quarantined in many schools.

Board member Janice Voorhies said West Hills Middle School in West Jordan has had a 37% absenteeism rate.

“It’s simply untenable,” Voorhies said.

The board discussed conditions at 15 schools and moved all but Oquirrh Hills Middle School to remote learning over the next few days. Case and quarantine counts appear to be improving at Oquirrh Hills but the board voted to send a vigilance letter to remind students and parents to follow public health guidelines intended to stem the spread of the disease.

Middle schools to move to virtual learning include Copper Mountain, Elk Ridge, Fort Herriman, Hidden Valley, Mountain Creek, South Jordan, Sunset Ridge, West Hills and West Jordan. The district has 12 traditional middle schools.

The board also voted to move Bingham, Herriman, Mountain Ridge, Riverton and West Jordan high schools to online learning. Copper Hills High School is already on virtual learning. The district has six traditional high schools.

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Six of the schools moved to virtual learning have more than 200 students on quarantine, West Hills Middle School at 246 and 211 at Copper Mountain Middle School. Three high schools have more than 200 people quarantine, 245 at Bingham High and 205 at Herriman High School.

Some of the high schools will have students in the building to allow students to take the ACT pretest, work in small groups at the administrators’ discretion, and at least one will conduct regular classes on Thursday.

Board member Darrell Robinson questioned why the board, if moving students to online learning due to conditions related to the pandemic, would allow students to continue in-person classes instead of making the change immediately.

“If we’re saying we’re closed, why aren’t we closed?”

Other board members spoke on behalf of fatigued teachers who are teaching in school but also assisting absent and quarantining students.

Board member Matt Young noted conditions at Hidden Valley Middle School in Bluffdale, a school of 776 students and staff, with 203 of them on quarantine, according to the school district dashboard.

“I believe this school has reached the point where that ability for our teachers to deliver high quality in-person learning, while their efforts are 100% there and they’re doing everything they possibly can, they are being stretched too thin,” Young said.

The district’s dashboard says there are 297 people in quarantine from Elk Ridge Middle School among 1,185 in the school.

Board President …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News

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