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Brighton, Alta high schools could change schedules after COVID-19 spike

Posted at 10:26 PM, Sep 21, 2020

SALT LAKE COUNTY — The Canyons School District will once again talk about what to do with at least one of its high schools after new numbers Monday showed a rise in COVID-19 cases within students and staff at a few of the district's schools.

Brighton High parents received an email from the school Monday evening, giving them a heads up of what's to come at the Tuesday school board meeting.

"At this meeting the board will decide what changes or transitions need to occur at Brighton High in regards to our COVID-19 numbers," the email stated.

According to a Canyons School District online chart, Brighton High surpassed the district's 15-case threshold as well as the 1 percent case rate threshold Monday to become a "Tier 3" school — meaning the district will need to discuss next steps for the school's learning plan.

Twenty-three students and staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, which is 1.1 percent of the school.

The conversation about what's next has parents and students nervous.

"It's a scary thought to think that I might have to be one of the schools that are talked about," said Brighton High freshman Alexia Goon.

She described how attending school this year has been somewhat normal. She goes to each of her classes like usual, and said that classes sizes seem to be about the same as normal.

But she and her mom Nicole Belk are wondering if they'll now end up with a hybrid schedule, or following in Corner Canyon High School's footsteps and going completely online.

"I've been kind of worried seeing what's going on with Corner Canyon, and just wondering what it's going to look like for Brighton," Belk said.

Goon wants to be able to stay in class.

"For me, that kind of stinks," she said of moving to a hybrid or online schedule. "Doing online isn't same experience."

Belk described how she would keep a schedule for her daughter should classes go online, but it's not preferred.

"If it can be safe for everybody, we'd like to be in school," Belk said.

Parent Laura Garcia worries that making the sudden switch from in-person to online will be difficult for students and teachers. Her twin sons are sophomores at Brighton High.

She said they came home Monday and told her that two of their teachers didn't show up to class because they are in quarantine. They aren't sure if these teachers tested positive for COVID-19.

"As a parent and a teacher, I don't like the idea of bouncing back and forth," she said of the possible schedule change.

Her concern, she expressed, is in the district potentially deciding to switch a particular school from in-person to online, then back to in-person again weeks later.

While she said she feels like in-person is a better option for academics, emotional support and social support for kids, Garcia said a hybrid model would be nicer if students and teachers can't social distance.

She also worries that the situation with a beloved teacher at Corner Canyon High School could happen at Brighton High.

"I really hope that they think long-term," Garcia said of the school board. "And my hope is that they'll go to a hybrid schedule, and we can just stay that way for the rest of the school year."

In addition to Brighton High School, Alta High School may also be up for discussion. The school surpassed the 15-case threshold to hit 20 cases Monday. However, that is a 0.9 percent case rate, which sits just under the 1 percent threshold recently set by the board.

Corner Canyon, which the school board decided last week to move online, now has 90 cases of COVID-19 at a case rate of over 3 percent.

The school district has said that the majority of the cases seemed to come from community spread outside of the schools, rather than from transmission within the classroom.