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Frequently Asked Questions About Students’ Return To School Amid Pandemic

FILE

Q: What guidelines from the CDC are schools following to protect students?

A: Schools may consider implementing several strategies from the CDC to encourage behaviors that reduce the spread of COVID-19. Those include staying home when appropriate, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, and cloth face coverings. More information can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/schools.html

Q: What are the UEA recommendations for reopening schools?

A: The Utah Education Association is requiring several steps for schools to complete before reopening. This includes a deep cleaning of the building, acquiring PPE for students and employees, preparing transportation plans, and establishing social distancing measures. More information can be found here: http://myuea.org/sites/utahedu/Uploads/files/IssuesAndAction/COVID19/UEA%20Recommendations%20to%20Governor%20on%20School%20Reopening_June2020.pdf

Q: Do schools have guidance if the virus resurges? 

A: The Utah State Board of Education requires districts to make a plan for temporary closures, if necessary. More information here: https://www.myuea.org/issues_action/covid-19/covid_faq.aspx

Q: Are schools required to return to in-person instruction in the fall? 

A: No. All agencies and the UEA want in-classroom instruction where safe, reasonable, and possible. But local COVID-19 rolling 7-day average positive cases and percent positive cases will likely determine what school districts may return to in-person instruction for fall 2020. More information here: https://www.myuea.org/issues_action/covid-19/covid_faq.aspx

Q: If a student, teacher, or employee tests positive for COVID-19, does the school need to close? 

A: No. In most cases, schools do not need to close for in-person learning. Schools may consider hybrid or remote learning options to protect students, teachers, and employees. More information here: https://coronavirus-download.utah.gov/School/COVID-19_School_Manual_FINAL.pdf

Q: What happens if a student, teacher, or employee is exposed to COVID-19?

A: If a student, teacher, or employee was exposed to a person who tested positive for COVID-19, the health department and the school will work together on contact tracing. Contact tracing is how public health workers find the close contacts of someone who has COVID-19. More information here: https://coronavirus-download.utah.gov/School/COVID-19_School_Manual_FINAL.pdf

Q: What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?

A: Quarantine is for people who may have been exposed to COVID-19, but aren’t sick yet. Isolation is for people who are sick or who have symptoms of COVID-19. More information here: https://coronavirus-download.utah.gov/School/COVID-19_School_Manual_FINAL.pdf

Q: How long do students, teachers, and employees have to isolate at home if they’ve been tested positive for COVID-19?

A: Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate until his or her symptoms get better and he or she has been fever-free for 24 hours without medicine AND it has been at least 10 days since he or she first had symptoms or tested positive. More information here: https://coronavirus-download.utah.gov/School/COVID-19_School_Manual_FINAL.pdf

Q: If a student who participates in school activities, sports, or clubs tests positive for COVID-19, will the whole group, team, or club be quarantined?

A: Anyone who was in close contact, 6 feet or 2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) with the student will be quarantined for 14 days. This may include other students who sit closer than 6 feet from the student in class, other participants in events who were in close contact, or teachers and coaches. With their parents’ permission, students are allowed to go to school during their quarantine. However, students are not allowed to participate in other activities while they are on modified quarantine, even if they test negative for COVID-19. More information here: https://coronavirus-download.utah.gov/School/COVID-19_School_Manual_FINAL.pdf

Q: Why can students go to school during quarantine, but not participate in other activities? 

A: Although there is a risk that students who go to school after they have been exposed to COVID-19 may spread the virus to other students, schools are taking every precaution to reduce that risk as much as possible. It is recommended schools keep the same students together in groups or cohorts as much as possible; seat students as far away from others as they can; have students, teachers, and employees wear face coverings; and modify spaces and processes to promote physical distancing. Schools will be doing their best to try to limit the number of students each student is in close contact with. It is not recommended students be allowed to participate in activities, sports, or clubs while quarantined because it increases the number of people they may expose to the virus that causes COVID-19. 

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