Remembering A Pandemic-Altered School Year

Dec 28, 2020, 10:26 PM | Updated: 11:06 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Few things affected Utah families more during the past year than changes in our schools. There were lessons for all of us.

The announcement from Gov. Gary Herbert clear back in March would set off a year of constant change. It has been tough, but not always negative.

“Schools are going to close for a few weeks,” Herbert announced on March 17.

That sent many families and schools into a tailspin. In a moment, life as we knew it changed.

“I just want to see my friends,” eighth-grader Matisse Hasler said through tears. “It’s just so hard.”

Classes weren’t the only thing canceled. The Utah High School Activities Association canceled spring sports and schools canceled activities.

We never dreamed it would extend to graduation, but it did. Schools were determined to do something to honor their seniors. Some ceremonies were solo walkthroughs and others drive-through. “It’s a little bit different but I’m happy I was still able to walk and got to have some sort of graduation,” said one high school graduate.

As schools scrambled to prepare for fall, students got new marching orders. “We’ve literally take every rule and every protocol and rewritten it to keep students and our staff members safe,” said one assistant principal.

Masks were required, schools put up plexiglass barriers for desks and students maintained social distancing. Sometimes schools were forced into hybrid learning with online classes and contact tracing.

Students adapted to schools opening and closing based on the number of positive cases reported.

All the while, teacher frustration over health concerns and workload reached a boiling point. A reporter asked a teacher, “After hearing all of this, a lot of people would ask you, why do you do this?”

“That’s a really good question. It’s for the kids. It’s for my students,” the teacher cried.

The state would recognize their efforts by offering all in-person teachers a $1,500 bonus and bumping them up near the front of the line for COVID-19 vaccinations.

By next year, all schools, even those in Salt Lake City, will offer some form of in-person learning. New protocols will mean fewer quarantines.

With vaccines, there is a hope to return to “normal.” But with all we’ve learned through the pandemic, in some ways, schools will never go back.

KSL 5 TV Live

Back to School

Holly Duke teaches all-day kindergarten at West Kearns Elementary....

Deanie Wimmer

High stakes of kindergarten readiness; what Utah schools are doing to improve student performance

Ready for kindergarten used to mean a child turned five by the cutoff date. But as the stakes and expectations get higher, teachers are encountering some surprising behaviors.

6 months ago

This week KSL+ looks at what school districts describe as “chronic absenteeism” in Utah’s sch...

Braden McElreath and Michael Houck, KSL TV

8 Utah schools have been placed on lockdown since the start 2023-2024 school year

In just two and a half weeks, seven Utah schools have issued seven lockdown protocols. 

6 months ago

Follow @KSL5TVLike us on Facebook...

Dan Rascon

Bingham High seniors petition due to school parking shortage

Some Bingham High School seniors in South Jordan, say a new parking policy for students is now preventing them from finding open stalls.

6 months ago

The outside of Ella Vista Elementary School. (KSL TV)...

Shelby Lofton

Bella Vista Elementary starts school year without air conditioning

Another Utah school is starting its school year without any AC.

6 months ago

McKinley Elementary School, Box Elder County School District. (KSL TV)...

Karah Brackin and Mary Culbertson, KSL TV

Box Elder School District among the last to head back to school; largely due to the County Fair

Box Elder School District heads back to school as one of the last districts to do so in the state. While they have unique factors to consider, students and administration are pumped for the new school year.

6 months ago

The Timekettle Translator earbuds that Herriman High School uses for their international students....

Karah Brackin and Michael Houck, KSL TV

New translation device helps international students in classes and studies

As Herriman High School continues to see the number of international students increasing, the school is turning to a game-changing device that is helping break down the language barrier.

6 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Remembering A Pandemic-Altered School Year