Jordan School District Finalizes Reopening Plan
RIVERTON, Utah – Classes in the Jordan School District will begin in-person on Aug. 24.
The school board voted on a four-day, in-person plan with Fridays structured around meeting individual student needs and extending learning from earlier in the week.
School board members released the proposal at the beginning of July and said they had received numerous calls and emails from parents, teachers and students about the plan.
“Do we send everyone back to school, or do we social distance? We can’t do both,” JSD Board of Education President Bryce Dunford said. “It is not physically possible to have everyone back in school and then spread around.”
There are nearly 60,000 students, 3,000 teachers and another 3,000 staff in the district. Employees and parents were surveyed about in-person learning. The results of the survey reveled 195 teachers preferred virtual learning and nearly 3,000 students would feel more comfortable learning from home.
“We will do everything in our power to match those numbers up,” Dunford said. “We would like every teacher who wants to stay home to be able to stay home. We would like every student who wants to stay home, to stay home. We have every intention of doing all that we can to satisfy everyone’s desires.”
Teachers with the Jordan Education Association gathered outside the board meeting to protest the re-opening plan. Their biggest concern is social distancing. The plan allows for all students to be in school at the same time. They said on average they have 36 students to a class.
“Even if we just had half as many students at once, that would go a long way in actually having a good experience during the day where students didn’t have to just face forward, not allowed to get into groups and discuss things,” teacher Ellen Hansel said.
Hansel said she was disappointed in the board’s decision.
“We felt like we were moving in a good direction, that the board members were hearing our concerns about social distancing, and it’s like it suddenly, completely dissipated and the whole atmosphere in the room completely deflated,” she said. “I know we are feeling very discouraged right now.”
Teachers will start a week before students to prepare for the beginning of classes. It also means the district needs a waiver from the state to get state funding for those five days where teachers and staff are working but students aren’t in the classroom. The district said that funding equates to about $1.2 million per day.
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