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Some will send kids back for in-person learning in 2021, others are sticking to distance learning

Posted at 2:56 PM, Dec 16, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — It has been nine months since Utah students, teachers, education leaders, health experts and parents began navigating learning during a pandemic.

Things have gotten much easier since March, as educators continue to work to make distance learning work.

“The primary things that are most important are providing a limited amount of resources that parents can navigate and keeping things as simple as possible and as consistent as possible for everyone involved,” Granite School District Spokesperson Ben Horsley, said.

There will be some additional resources available at the beginning of the year, he said.

Read: Why parents say one Utah school COVID-19 test program failed

“We have actually licensed a handful more products, specifically for teachers, screen casting softwares and some other technologies to make their instructional practices easier. Continue to test and pilot a variety of resources to see how they function and then providing those resources to teachers, if and when that’s appropriate,” Horsley said.

During the 2020-21 school year, there have been 18,757 school-associated COVID-19 cases, including students, staff and teachers, according to the Utah Department of Health. Most cases have been in high school students. Health leaders say very few people contract the virus at school, rather, people are contracting the virus off school property.

Read: Should schools close amid surge in COVID-19 cases? Infectious disease specialist weighs in

The Granite District is expecting to have about 20 percent of students doing distance learning at the start of 2021, down from about 25 percent at the start of the school year, Horsley said. About three percent of the online students moved back in person during the second quarter.

“I expect we will see a similar adjustment [to last quarter] as more and more people feel comfortable returning to the classroom,” he said.

Read: Granite School District Board of Ed changes plans for elementary schools

Despite many kids heading back to in-person school, some Utah parents are planning to keep their children home like Lissa Kerns.

“I feel like sending them back could jeopardize me and my family and I don’t want that,” the mother of four said.

It hasn’t been easy having three kids doing online learning, Kerns said, but it has been easier compared to last March. Her kids will eventually go back to the classroom.

“Once COVID isn’t a risk, I will be sending them back to school,” she said.

For more information about COVID-19 and Utah Schools, click here.