Lehi Private School Never Required Students, Staff To Wear Masks

Apr 12, 2021, 7:34 PM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 11:02 pm

LEHI, Utah — Students at Utah public schools were still required to wear masks through the end of the school year, but one private school in Lehi has not required students and staff to wear masks since August, and school officials said they have not had a single case of COVID.

Alpine Valley Academy is a small private, non-profit school with 35 students and six staff members.

Mark Cluff, a former member of the Utah State Board of Education, founded the school three years ago, following a different learning model that allows the students to guide their own education.

“In other words, the student decides each day how they spend their time, what they study and what they do,” Cluff said.

The coronavirus pandemic has shown that model extends beyond the books into face coverings.

In March 2020, Alpine Valley shut its doors like most other schools in the state, but Cluff said as they learned more about the virus and how it spreads, they decided to stray from the statewide approach to combating the virus in schools.

“There’s a pandemic and people need to be cautious and aware and make the best decision for their lives,” Cluff said.

In August, they decided to allow staff to decide for themselves and for parents to decide for their children on whether to mask up. Two staff members chose to keep the masks on.

A few weeks into the school year, Cluff said all parents signed a form, allowing their students to come to school maskless.

“They’ve loved not having to worry about masks,” he said.

“I don’t feel like I’m in the part of the world that’s shut down,” said 16-year-old Zach Caldwell, who has studied at the school for two years. “I feel like I’m in part of the world where I can learn and be open and free. When kids are sick, they just stay home.”

The statewide mask mandate was lifted April 10, but public health officials said the requirement needed to remain in schools for the following reasons:

  1. There’s no vaccine for children younger than 16.
  2. Not every adult in the school has gotten the shot.
  3. Children can get sick from COVID and have long-term effects.
  4. They can get COVID, not feel sick, and spread it to others.

Still, Cluff said their model has worked so far, adding that they have not had a single case of COVID-19 at the school. He said a few people were infected when they were out of school last year and a staff member got the virus not long ago outside the school.

An official at the Utah County Health Department told KSL-TV there was no record of any cases of COVID at the school.

“I’m kind of in the minority,” said Jared Bean, one of two employees at Alpine Valley Academy who chose to wear a mask.

Bean is a “mentor”, who works with the students at the school on a daily basis, answering questions and connecting them with resources to assist them in their learning.

“Nobody gives me a hard time for wearing (a mask). I don’t give anyone a hard time for not wearing one,” he said. “It seems like it’s worked for us.”

Alpine Valley doesn’t look or sound like a typical school, and students and staff will tell you it’s not supposed to.

The current mask requirement for public schools expires June 15, and it states that, “Local officials, like a school board or county council, don’t have the legal authority to end the mask requirement in schools before this date.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories


Intermountain Medical Center (KSL TV)...
Emily Ashcraft

Pandemic led to increase in rate and severity of depression, Intermountain study says

The COVID-19 pandemic had a large impact on mental health, specifically depression, an Intermountain Health study using research from thousands Utah patients found.
18 days ago
Emily Ashcraft

Masks no longer required at Intermountain Health facilities, 3 years after pandemic started

Intermountain Health announced wearing masks will become optional for visitors and patients beginning March 15, following an anticipated decline in respiratory illnesses.
21 days ago
woman blowing her nose on a couch...
Paul LeBlanc

New assessment on the origins of COVID-19 adds to the confusion

Three years after the start of the pandemic, researchers are beginning to look more into how COVID-19 began and its origins.
26 days ago
Flu COVID test...
Jen Christensen, CNN

FDA authorizes first at-home test for flu, Covid-19

If you've got a fever and a cough, you don't necessarily have to go to the doctor anymore to find out if it's the flu or COVID-19.
28 days ago
Ashley Moser

COVID long-haulers push lawmakers to approve funding for treatment research

The request for $4,000,000 would help U of U Health’s Comprehensive COVID-19 Clinic, which has seen 1,800 long COVID-19 patients since July of 2021.
1 month ago
Katija Stjepovic

Utah arts and cultural jobs are surging after COVID pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic pulled the curtains on most of Utah's arts and cultural jobs, but after nearly three years, they are reemerging. 
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Close up of an offset printing machine during production...
Les Olson IT

Top 7 Reasons to Add a Production Printer to Your Business

Learn about the different digital production printers and how they can help your company save time and money.
vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Lehi Private School Never Required Students, Staff To Wear Masks