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Utah public and charter schools closing for two weeks to prevent spread of coronavirus

Posted at 4:09 PM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-14 23:32:45-04

UPDATE: The State of Utah issued a clarification on comments made during the press conference.

"Gov. Gary R. Herbert mentioned that during public school’s two-week dismissal, parents who are unable to be home with children will have the option to bring them to school to be supervised by teachers. This is not the case."

Read the full statement here.

Original story continues below:

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's public and charter K-12 schools will be closed starting Monday to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, Gov. Gary Herbert announced Friday.

Herbert announced a "soft closure" of all of the schools, effective Monday. Class will be dismissed for two weeks to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

Utah State Board of Education Superintendent Sydnee Dickson said the dismissal is not a break from learning, and they want to make sure they continue vital resources for children.

Schools will still provide meals to children as needed, and school doors will be open to those who need it. In two weeks, Herbert says the state will reevaluate what the next step will be.

Dickson added that the dismissal is not a break from learning — local school districts will inform parents on plans for remote learning, from online teaching to take-home instruction packets.

Dickson says they are working on a way so that all school employees will still be paid; Some teachers may even be available at the schools.

Utah has no community-transmitted cases at this point — all who have tested positive are believed to contracted the virus from out of the state or country. State leaders say the decision is a preventative measure, not reactive.

“We are not waiting, we are not sitting on the sidelines. We are in fact very proactive in this effort,” Herbert said.

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox added that this not a quarantine; Students do not have to isolate in their homes. However, Herbert reminds parents to inform their kids to practice preventative measures, such as social distancing, thorough hand-washing and other practices.

Watch the full press conference below: