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Bear River Health Department issues ‘test-to-stay’ order for classrooms

BOX ELDER, CACHE & RICH COUNTIES, Utah — The Bear River Health Department is issuing a “test to stay” order based on the number of cases per class.

Officials said the new state law that handles those measures doesn’t work in their area. 

According to the law, schools as a whole have to move to a test to stay event, if there are 30 or more cases at schools with 1,500 or less.

In Box Elder, Cache and Rich counties, 30 cases could be a quarter of the school’s population.

With some elementary schools having less than 200 students, health officers, like Jordan Mathis, said it’s too risky to sit and wait for 30 or more cases to take action.

“My elementary schools range from 117 to 759 as far as enrollment,” said Mathis.

Instead of rolling out test-to-stay events for whole schools, the focus is now on classrooms.

Three or more COVID-19 cases is what it will take to get an individual class to a testing event.

“And so, rather than look at large disruptions, we wanted to look at how could we target our intervention,” said Mathis.

It’s only being done at the elementary school level, since the young children don’t have the vaccine as an option.

“Over the last three weeks, we’ve seen a significant increase — about 159% increase from about three weeks ago,” said Mathis.

While none of the three county commissions have opposed the order, they can still vote to shut it down.

On top of that, the order is only for 30 days and will have to be renewed by county leaders afterward.

“What we are trying to strike is a kind of middle ground,” said Mathis.

Mathis said this change seemed like the best option, since trying to enact a mask mandate “didn’t have the political legs.”

The order goes into effect at 7 a.m. Monday.

It is written to automatically expire 60 days after vaccines become available for the younger children.

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