Gov. Gary Herbert said to continue slowing the spread of COVID-19, the soft closure of Utah’s schools will continue through the rest of the 2019-2020 school year. He made the announcement today, in the daily press conference to update the public about the coronavirus in Utah, where he said it’s essential students’ learning continues. The governor added distance learning efforts enacted by many of Utah’s schools have been difficult, but he said he appreciates the way families and teachers have adapted.
Sydnee Dickson, Utah’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction, says the state school board is working with the governor to create three phases to address issues caused by the coronavirus:
Phase one will address immediate needs and the “new now,” and has five main tenets. It includes making sure school meals continue, students will continue learning from home, students are able to graduate and enter the workforce or seek higher learning, students’ mental health is accounted for and employees will continue to have job security.
Phase two will look at the gaps left open due to the closure, such as ESL students, and the social and emotional needs of isolated students. One example is virtual socialization and teachers doing “drive by parades” past students’ homes.
Phase three focuses on the “new future” and will assess what students across the board need to do to catch up and what could be done better to support digital learning both for parents and teachers.
Dickson said while Utah’s digital learning system did give the state an advantage, she’s aware students have still disengaged in the transition. AP tests and placement tests — including certification testing for technical schools — have been postponed, according to Dickson and the govornor.