Utah School District Wants To Opt Out Of State COVID-19 Quarantine Guidelines

Sep 3, 2020, 12:01 AM | Updated: 12:16 am

ST. GEORGE, Utah – As Utah’s 670,000 students head back to school, at least one district would like to modify some of the Utah Department of Health’s guidelines for quarantining students.

Washington County School District Superintendent Larry Bergeson said students who are exposed to COVID-19 but receive negative test results and show no symptoms for 48 hours should be allowed back in schools, instead of being forced to quarantine for 14 days.

Technically, Bergeson has the authority to make that decision. However, he said it’s not that simple.

“There just seems to be a lot of pressure,” Bergeson said. “I think we’ve reached a point where we would like a little more freedom to decide what’s best for the children.”

The Utah State Board of Education worked tirelessly leading up to the start of the school year to try to ensure a smooth transition. That included leaving key decisions up to individual districts and charter schools — something board member Mike Haynes said was important to the board.

“As a state board, we really made an effort to let local school districts, charter schools, to make those decisions for themselves,” Haynes said. “That was a big deal for us. We wanted to put as much local control as we could into the hands of the districts.”

Ben Stepan, a junior at Bingham High School, got a message last week that he had been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

“I got tested and it came back negative,” said Stephan, who is now undergoing a mandatory 14-day quarantine. He said it’s tough to miss that much school.

“For sure, especially because I’m taking three AP classes,” he said.

However, he also pointed out if his quarantine helps keep others safe, he was more than willing to stay home.

In Washington County, Bergeson would like to take that negative test result, along with some thorough monitoring, and get students back to class right away.

For now, Bergeson will comply with current guidelines.

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Utah School District Wants To Opt Out Of State COVID-19 Quarantine Guidelines