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Jordan School District pushes start date back one week, goes forward with reopening

Posted at 9:41 PM, Jul 28, 2020

SALT LAKE COUNTY — The Jordan School District Board of Education Tuesday hashed out how thousands of students will attend class this fall.

The board made their decision to reopen school -- a week later than normal -- after hearing a number of public comments, most urging them not to fully reopen classes.

The Jordan School District plan calls for letting students back to school on Monday through Thursday, with Friday set aside as a distance learning day. However, the plan allows for any students and teachers not comfortable with in-person class, to opt for online class instead.

At the board meeting Tuesday, parents and teachers showed up to give their thoughts. Many of them wore red shirts, saying they were in support of teachers and advocating for delaying the reopening of schools.

Most expressed health and safety concerns, and asked the board to adopt a hybrid schedule instead -- where class sizes are cut in half and students only attend on alternate days. It follows the plan the Davis School District announced Tuesday that it will implement for students.

"Urge you to reconsider your vote for the current plan, and choose a plan that would provide social distancing in our classrooms," said Michelle Foote, who said she's both a teacher in the Jordan School District and a parent of students in the district.

Rachel Harrison, a parent and pediatric nurse, asked the board to consider the lives at risk.

"The blood is on your hands when they bring it home to their grandparents, to their siblings, to their little baby sister, to their cousin who is on a vent at home already," she said. "I'm scared for them."

A couple of unmasked parents approached the podium, asking for kids to get back to school.

One parent said that one way or the other, they are sacrificing something -- either safety or learning. She said she was concerned about the learning, especially for families where access to technology and resources is impossible.

"These kids need to be back in school," said parent Dallas Jackman. "It's hurting them so much more than a little bit of a virus."

At first, the board voted down the original plan. They then discussed the possibility of pushing back the start of school, as well as the possibility of the hybrid alternate schedule.

Some board members became emotional during discussion.

"This might be the most difficult decision I've ever made in my life," a choked up Darrell Robinson said. "I have spent hours and hours, days off work, reading every single message... and not sleeping at night."

He said he looked at every angle to make the right decision.

After going through a couple of other motions, the board approved pushing back the start of school one week to August 24, and reopening school to four days a week as called for in the original plan.

"We're just trying to do what's right for students, and we all need to be examples of that," said board member Jen Atwood, her eyes filled with tears. "We need to work together, to give these students a good start in school."

Under the approved plan, parents of elementary school students will need to choose either in-person or online learning. Secondary and high school students will have a little more freedom, with the ability to choose in-person, online, or a hybrid of both.