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Emails leave students, teachers confused about COVID-19 protocols at Davis County high schools

LAYTON, Utah – Questions remained after emails to parents at two Davis County high schools gave the go-ahead for students who tested positive for COVID-19 to return to class. 

That messaging was quickly reversed but students and teachers were still left confused by the move. 

As long as it was okay with their parents, students who tested positive or did not participate in a test-to-stay event were allowed to return to school. 

That was the initial word but it quickly changed and some people don’t understand why it was a consideration in the first place. 

Attendance was down Friday at Layton and Woods Cross High Schools as hundreds were out sick. 

Layton High School junior Ty Barney said, “It’s like half the school is gone. A lot of people tested positive yesterday. Even a lot of teachers. I’ve got teachers that are out.” 

He said it’s probably for the best though. Between the two schools, hundreds tested positive for COVID-19 at test-to-stay events, much like this one at Viewmont high earlier this week. 

Then, as state leaders put a pause on the test-to-stay law Thursday, an email went out to parents at Woods Cross and Layton that said, in part “students who tested positive or declined testing will be allowed to return to school and participate in activities.” 

Layton High School English teacher Sydney Stout said, “I felt very anxious and overall just felt very angry.” 

Stout said she heard from other teachers and parents who felt the same way. “Knowing how many students were being taken out of class was really concerning to us because, while we know that for some of us this won’t be life-threatening, that doesn’t mean that’s the case for everyone.” 

Administrators reversed the decision within hours after they consulted further with state and health department leaders. 

District spokeswoman Hailey Higgens said, “That shouldn’t have gone out and the district is sorry and we apologize for any of the anger or confusion that that caused parents.” 

There was very little explanation beyond that. 

Stout said, “It was really frustrating and overwhelming.” 

The Davis County Health Department said when they got word of the initial emails, they quickly reached out to the school district to help them revamp the policy. 

Friday, they asked those who were positive for COVID-19 and those who did not participate in testing to isolate for at least five days. 


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How do I prevent it?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

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