Salt Lake schools to stay on distance learning until at least Nov. 9

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City schools will remain in remote learning mode until at least Nov. 9, according to a letter sent to the school community by Interim Superintendent Larry Madden on Tuesday.

“As we approach the first midterm checkpoint, Salt Lake City has not met the metrics the board selected to return to in-person learning. Therefore, we will continue in remote learning through the end of the first quarter, which ends on Nov. 9,” Madden wrote.

Prior to the start of the school year, the Salt Lake City Board of Education established the metrics to allow students to return to some form of in-person learning provided that Salt Lake County’s COVID-19 positive test rate was below 5% for seven consecutive days, and there was a COVID-19 positive case count of less than 10 per 100,000 residents of Salt Lake County.

“Over the last seven days, Salt Lake County has had a COVID-19 positive test rate of 11.61%, and a COVID-19 positive case count of 32.1 per 100,000 residents of Salt Lake County,” the letter states. Thus, the district will continue with online teaching and learning.

“The priority of the Salt Lake City School District is the health and safety of our students, families, and employees,” the letter states.

The board also committed to revisiting the city’s COVID-19 status at midterm and at the end of each quarter to determine if it was safe to return to in-person learning in some capacity.

In an earlier interview, Madden said he did not envision the school district would return to five days of in-person instruction immediately; rather it would ramp up with some type of hybrid instruction and then work up to a full return to classrooms.

The school board will discuss plans for the second quarter at its meetings Oct. 6, Oct. 20, and Nov. 3.

Next Tuesday, Madden will report to the board regarding a recent meeting with school district leaders and the Salt Lake County Health Department. Both parties continue to work toward a safe return to in-person learning.

“As the COVID-19 situation improves, our first planning focus will be on returning younger grades to in-person learning in phases and expanding flexibility for small group instruction for classes that require in-person skill development,” Madden’s letter states.

Families will receive a survey on Wednesday from Michelle Amiot, the school district’s director of assessment and evaluation, that will ask for feedback on their experiences with remote learning during the first weeks of school. Parents will receive a separate email for each child who attends district schools. The survey will be open through Monday.

The Salt Lake City School District was the only school district in Utah to start the school year on remote learning.

In Salt Lake City schools, students attend class online during regular school hours and follow a standard school schedule. Educators teach “live” with students using video conferencing technology such as Zoom and Teams. Students learn online at the same time and, depending on their level in school, self-direct some of their learning.

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Marjorie Cortez

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