Local schools dismissed for two weeks
Beginning March 16, schools in the San Juan School District will be under a “soft closure” for the following two weeks as part of a massive public health response to slow the spread of coronavirus.
San Juan School District Superintendent Ron Nielson called the action a “school dismissal” but added that students should be busy during the period. His statement can be read here; a pdf is attached below.
Students will be provided with educational materials to work on at home during the closure and will be expected to keep up with the school work.
“These will be counted as school days,” said Nielson.
Teachers and administrators in the school district will address the issue in detail on Monday and Tuesday. Nielson said that the dismissal may look different at different schools in the sprawling district.
Beginning Tuesday, grab and go food services will be available for children age 18 and under.
Beginning Wednesday, educational materials will be ready for the students to work on at home. They may be printed materials or in some cases, may be accessed online.
“We need for parents to be very diligent,” said Nielson. We hope that they listen, understand, and partner with us.”
All school activities are cancelled for the two-week period, including sporting and academic events, field trips, community events, dances and the Monticello High School Junior Prom.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert announced the decision on Friday, March 13. “School is dismissed for a period of two weeks in order to slow the spread of this virus,” said Herbert. “Then we will revisit the issue. Closing the schools is a preventive measure.”
This is a proactive in effort and it is better to be too early than too late,” added Herbert. “We have to provide a safe environment to learn.”
“It takes tremendous fortitude to make these decisions,” said Dr Kurt Hegmann, director of Environmental Health at the University of Utah. “I applaud the decision-making,” he added. “It is sound science.”
Hegmann said the hope is to keep mortality at one percent rather than the reported six percent in Italy. He said that the experiences with the virus in countries across world are varied, depending upon the response of the public health efforts.
“This action will flatten the curve,” added Hegmann, “and give time to develop potential treatments.”
Hegmann reports that in Seattle, where the virus is so widespread that health care providers are no longer testing for it, the Intensive Care Units in area hospitals are filled to capacity with coronavirus patients.’
Hegmann added that the state is instituting changes early to avoid mass challenges.
Superintendent Sydnee Dickson reminds parents and students, “We are not ending the school year by any means!”