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

Back to School

remote learning after snow storm...
Katija Stjepovic, KSL TV

Canyons School District quickly switched to remote learning after Friday’s snowstorm

Friday’s early morning storm impacted multiple school districts across the Wasatch Front. Several districts adjusted start times and some even canceled classes.
4 months ago
This week KSL+ looks at what school districts describe as “chronic absenteeism” in Utah’s sch...
Matt Rascon

KSL+: The Impact of pandemic and “chronic absenteeism” in Utah schools

Months into the new school year, the pandemic’s impact on students is coming into focus.
5 months ago
A school classroom with chairs and desks...
Brooke Williams

Project to provide air purifiers in Utah K-12 classrooms

Cleaner air improves student performance, decreases COVID transmission and school absenteeism. New project provides air purifiers for classrooms in Utah.
7 months ago
Follow @KSL5TVLike us on Facebook...
Deanie Wimmer

Chronic Absenteeism leads to rise in F grades in most of Utah’s largest school districts

Schools all over Utah are dealing with the problem of chronic absenteeism. Educators are seeing thousands of absences, and as a result, failing grades.
7 months ago
Box Elder High School (KSL TV)...
Eliza Pace

In excessive heat, some districts without A/C move to half days to spare students

With record-breaking, three-digit temperatures and older schools without air conditioning, two districts and one additional high school have announced changes to a half-day schedule to accommodate students.
7 months ago
Follow @KSL5TVLike us on Facebook...
Shara Park

Taylorsville High Wellness Center sees more students in need of basic items

Taylorsville High created a wellness center to give kids a break, however over the course of the year staff saw an increasing need for basic supplies like food, clothing, and hygiene products.
7 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Stack of old laptops with dark background...
PC Laptops

Old Laptop Upgrades You Need to Try Before Throwing it Away

Get the most out of your investment. Try these old laptop upgrades before throwing it out to keep it running fast and efficient.
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.
UDOH Releases New COVID-19 Recommendations For K-12 Schools