UDOH Releases New COVID-19 Recommendations For K-12 Schools

Aug 2, 2021, 4:40 PM | Updated: Aug 3, 2021, 12:16 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Weeks out from the start of the 2021-2022 school year, the Utah Department of Health has released a list of 10 recommendations to keep students and staff safe and to minimize the amount of disruptions to the school year.

“We strongly recommend local health departments and schools use a layered prevention approach, including encouraging vaccination and mask wearing, among other strategies,” said Dr. Michelle Hofmann, deputy director for UDOH. “Doing so can help minimize the disruptions of COVID-19 on schools while maximizing opportunities for children to participate in in-person learning and extracurricular activities.”

The recommendations come about a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines, saying people should wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status.

The UDOH recommendations for K-12 schools are as follows:

  • Encouraging everyone 12 years and older to get vaccinated for COVID-19
  • Wearing a mask when indoors
  • Isolating at home if you test positive for COVID-19
  • Quarantine and other protective measures after a school exposure
  • Testing for COVID-19
  • Staying home when you’re sick
  • Physical distancing and cohorting
  • Improving or increasing indoor ventilation
  • Hygiene practices
  • Cleaning and disinfection

“I think a lot of us felt like school might feel a lot more normal this year,” said UDOH spokesperson Jenny Johnson. “We’re now grappling with: school might not always feel as normal this year as we had hoped and thought.”

Johnson said getting the vaccine especially, “minimizes those disruptions that we saw last year that nobody wants to go through again.”

She said people who get the vaccine won’t be required to quarantine if they are exposed to COVID-19.

Decisions about how to handle exposure to COVID will now be left up to local health departments and school districts, according to local data.

“We have a way, especially for kids in junior highs and high schools, to not have their lives disrupted by COVID and that’s vaccinations,” said Johnson.

Dr. Leisha Nolen, the state epidemiologist, encouraged all Utahns, not just children, to get vaccinated.

“Vaccination is the best way to keep our children safe and healthy in school and free from the disruptions to their learning and extracurricular activities that Utah experienced last school year,” she said.

She went on to say, “I strongly encourage parents to consider having their children wear masks in school because Utah is experiencing high transmission levels of COVID-19. Many of our school-aged children are unable to be vaccinated at this time and masks are the next best protection.”

Johnson said we’re probably going to see a lot of variability across the state when it comes to implementing these recommendations.

“One district may be doing something totally different than a neighboring school district… and that’s okay. They’re addressing this based on local needs,” she said.

But local health departments and school districts are limited, to an extent, in how they can respond. State law, for example, requires all schools to have at least four days of in-person instruction per week.

“The biggest thing that I hear is anxiety and unease, given that circumstances are really different this year with the Delta variant,” said Heidi Matthews, president of the Utah Education Association.

Matthews wants to make sure decisions are based on science, not politics.

“We are worried about the lack of clarity, of direction that we are getting from local districts, from state officials,” she said. “Clock’s ticking. School is starting soon, and we need to be able to know that the recommendations of the medical experts are not impeded by any legislation.”

UDOH officials said the recommendations were developed with input from stakeholders, including local health officials, health officers, the Utah Education Association, as well as parents, elected officials and the Governor’s Office.

The full recommendations can be found on the health department’s coronavirus website.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus Utah

Ashley Moser

Utah family hasn’t seen father in nearly 1,000 days due to COVID-19 travel restrictions

“None of us were expecting to not see him three years later,” a daughter shares how her Father remains in China.
2 days ago
ATLANTA, GA - UNDATED:  This undated handout photo from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent...
Jed Boal

U of U researcher joins international team to confirm specific origin of COVID-19

New research released Tuesday confirmed the origin of COVID-19. A University of Utah Health and an international team of researchers found that the earliest cases of COVID-19 in humans emerged at a wholesale fish market in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
17 days ago
Only 50% of Utans are vaccinated and cases are surging because of the Omicron variant BA.5. FILE PH...
Jed Boal

BA.5 variant driving new surge of Utah COVID-19 cases

President Joe Biden’s positive Covid case Thursday was a sober reminder that Utah is not done fending off COVID-19 in many communities.
22 days ago
(File) Intermountain Healthcare Faculty in Murray....
Jed Boal

COVID-19 hospitalizations doubled, but mortality rate is low

Hospitals see an uptick in COVID hospitalizations due to a new infectious variant that is less lethal but more transmittable.
1 month ago
Intermountain Medical Center in Murray (KSL TV)...
Jed Boal

Researchers: Intermittent fasting provides protection against severe COVID-19

Doctors at Intermountain Healthcare have researched the health benefits of intermittent fasting for nearly a decade. Their latest discovery: intermittent fasting helps protect against severe COVID, but it is not a replacement for vaccination.
1 month ago
The Nurse Crisis and Patent Risk....
Debbie Worthen

Utah registered nurses are leaving the field, creating the ‘perfect storm’

"Without nurses, we can't have hospitals." Utah nurses are overworked and underpaid. Some say it's put people at risk.
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
UDOH Releases New COVID-19 Recommendations For K-12 Schools