As August steadily approaches, the debate on re-opening schools as the fight against COVID-19 continues has been on many people’s minds. The Utah School Board of Education (USBE) developed a re-opening plan, following the addendum to the Utah Leads Together color-coded guidelines.
The USBE worked with a panel of experts that consisted of administration, public health experts, educators, physicians and more to discover the minimum requirements and elements that Local Education Agencies (LEAs) must address in order to re-open schools for in-person instruction in the fall of 2020. Requirements that are contained in provided documents aim to assist to locally develop plans that are in accordance with certain minimum requirements.
These serve as an addendum to the Utah Leads Together color-coded guidelines and the purpose of the addendum is to itemize the requirements that LEAs would abide by to safely re-open schools.
It was stated that the intent is to clearly define what must be done while enabling adaptability and innovation at the local level to determine how to complete the guidelines and apply a set of principles to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19 across any school environment. With this in mind, the USBE is providing a reopening requirements template and handbook for LEAs to use while developing their local plan.
The documents included in the handbook are intended to provide a framework that brings together common, as well as consistent, elements and principles for each respective plan. It was expressed that by utilizing the template, the USBE and LEAs will have a method that assures all of the state-required areas have been addressed substantively.
Furthermore, the handbook is meant to accompany the template and serve as a guide. The USBE requires that the reopening requirements template be submitted no later than Aug. 1.
Finally, the USBE hosted a webinar on June 29 for charter school directors and district superintendents as well as their teams that discussed orienting participants to the problem-solving framework that may be applied to assess and mitigate the risks of COVID-19. This webinar featured a panel of on-the-ground educators and public health officials who discussed the ways to apply the guidelines to school settings.
More information the guidelines, expectations and deadlines as well as the handbook may be found by clicking here.