Elementary Students In Salt Lake District Return To In-Person Learning

Jan 25, 2021, 5:26 AM | Updated: 1:49 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Some Salt Lake City parents are preparing to send their children back to in-person learning Monday – the first time since the district moved classes online due to the pandemic.

More than 60% of parents are sending their elementary school-age students back to the classroom. The rest of the children will continue learning remotely.

Not all classes will re-start in person at once. Kindergarten and first grades will be the first to return, and the remaining grades will be funneled in week by week.

At Ensign Elementary School, you couldn’t see the smiles, but you could feel the excitement as students walked into school for the first time since March 2020.

“They’re excited, and so are we” said Principal Erik Jacobson. “We are spreading them out as much as possible, but it will be as similar as we can get to a normal school experience.”

About 80% of the kindergartners and first graders returned to the classrooms at Ensign Elementary School on Monday.

Parent Jana Garrett was escorting one of those kindergartners.

“I have watched the data,” she said. “It is pretty low transmission for elementary kids. I am not worried about them being around other kids with masks on.”

Masks are required for those returning for in-school learning. There will be students at the school four days a week with distance learning days scheduled for Wednesdays.

“School is not the same without having kids here,” Jacobson said. “It is what really fuels us as educators.”

Until now, the Salt Lake City School District had been the only district in the state with learning being held entirely online. During that time, there was an increase in failing grades and a decrease of more than 1,500 students district-wide.

Elementary school enrollment dropped 12.5% last year, and in some schools, that number was as high as 20%.

A group of parents have an active lawsuit against the district that aims to increase the planned two days of in-person learning to four for secondary schools. Utah lawmakers have also pressured the district to reopen via a bill that would withhold teacher bonuses from districts that are online only.

The school board last week voted to reopen secondary schools the first week of February.

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Elementary Students In Salt Lake District Return To In-Person Learning