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Utah school districts detail loosening of COVID-19 restrictions

Posted at 5:24 PM, Aug 12, 2022

New COVID-19 guidelines out from the CDC are far less restrictive than previous recommendations, and they were released just days before most Utah students go back to school.

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Davis County Schools has 72,000 students, from five-year-old kids in Pre-K programs to teenagers in early college. This year, district officials have decided that safety will come from information and resources, not mandates.

"There are no mandates or any restrictions. It really is giving parents the opportunity to decide what's best for their own families," said Davis Schools spokesperson Hailey Higgins.

The district says their policy lines up with the new CDC recommendations which include staying home and isolating for five days when sick. However, those with moderate to severe symptoms, or immune compromised, should make it 10 days.

Additional guidelines say to wear a mask if someone was exposed to COVID and staying up to date on vaccinations.

Gone are suggested mask and physical distance mandates, and screening asymptomatic people in community settings. It's a far cry from august 2021 when Davis Schools produced a lengthy outline of rules for everything from test-to-stay in the case of a school outbreak, and mandated 10-day isolation after testing positive.

Davis isn't alone in loosening the rules. Utah's biggest district, Alpine, has a four page back to school newsletter, and the words COVID or pandemic don't appear.

For Davis going forward, the approach is about information and support.

"We'll be reactivating our COVID dashboard and working really closely with the Davis County Health Department to give like, same day, or the next day information, as soon as we get it," Higgins said.

The district received $900,000 in one-time funding, which it will use to hire a school nurse and 10 COVID aides employed to work with students and identify outbreaks. They have two years worth of filters for air purifiers in every classroom.

"We are recommending that students stay home if they test positive, but we're not enforcing any mask mandates and we're not enforcing any testing if we will provide testing," added Higgins.

While Davis and the CDC align in their guidance, the district said it already had its new plan in place and that it's a welcome coincidence the two line up so nicely.