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Staying the Course • Crossing the Finish Line of the COVID-19 School Year

The pandemic finish line is in sight, and — as with any marathon — we need to stay the course and keep up our stamina in order to safely put this test of endurance behind us.

With COVID-19 case counts falling and Utah’s vaccination rates picking up, what safety protocols remain in place in Canyons District schools? Are any changes to the weekly school schedule expected this year?

Canyons District will continue to follow all applicable laws and consult with local health guidelines in determining next steps as we head into the final leg of the 2020-2021 school year. For now, here are the latest COVID-19-related developments and updates:

Are face masks still required in schools, on buses?

Yes. Face masks will continue to be required in schools, on buses, and at the District Office after April 10, even for those who have received a vaccination for the novel coronavirus. A bill approved by Utah lawmakers during the 2021 legislative session ends the state’s mask mandate starting April 10. Schools, however, are exempted from the legislation. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox has said that, in line with the most recent Utah Department of Health order, “the mask mandate will continue after April 10 in schools and for large gatherings.” Canyons will continue to seek guidance from health authorities and update families and employees of any changes in our safety protocols.

How long will Virtual-Learning Fridays remain in place?

The blended-learning model that calls for four days of in-person learning, while reserving Fridays for independent study, will remain in place for the rest of the school year. The expectation is that next fall, schools will return to a five-day schedule. But to preserve planning and collaboration time for teachers this year, and predictability for staff, parents and students who have established childcare and work routines, the Canyons Board of Education on Tuesday, March 16 opted to stick with virtual Fridays through the end of the 2020-2021 school year. It’s a decision favored by the majority of teachers, parents, and students who voiced their opinions via email and through in-person public comments. The schedule has served as a “release-valve” for teachers who have been required to teach changing rosters of students across multiple learning environments (in-person, online and students in quarantine). Students say it’s also helped them cope with the stresses of the pandemic. Many are using Fridays to consult with faculty, receive tutoring, and meet with students in test-prep groups. To further support students with unfinished learning challenges, the District will offer summer learning opportunities. More details about the programs are forthcoming.

Free Social and Emotional Wellness Screenings

We’re nearly one full lap around the calendar since the start of the pandemic, and with vaccinations picking up and case counts falling, the finish line is in sight.

We all look forward to this marathon of a sprint being over. But, as any long-distance athlete can attest, when the intensity and endorphins fade, what’s left are the emotions from the trauma and stress you’ve endured.

“We’ve been on this natural high, and now we’re having to process our thoughts and feelings. In these types of experiences, it’s not uncommon to feel a little let down, lost, and even anxious or depressed,” explains Genny Poll, a social and emotional specialist at Canyons District. “And while this can be a little overwhelming, our schools have trained experts and resources to help.”

In the coming weeks, to help our school communities cope with pandemic fatigue and the prospects of a post-pandemic slump, CSD’s licensed counselors are sponsoring free in-person and virtual wellness screenings and consultations for students, ages 10-18. The meetings are for 30 minutes and scheduled from 4 to 8 p.m. by appointment only.

Space is limited, and interested participants are asked to register for each event separately (see registration links below). Upon registering, families will be asked to complete a screening tool. During the consultations, licensed professionals will discuss available community resources to meet individual student needs.

Mental Health Screening Nights, 4 – 8 p.m.

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Looking to Change Learning Options? Requests Accepted through March 10

With COVID-19 cases on the decline in Utah and throughout the country, we know some

of our remote students are considering returning to in-person instruction.

Now, through March 10, is the time for middle school families to submit those requests. Those wanting to shift from in-person to one of two remote learning options available, or from remote learning to in-person instruction, will need to complete a change-request form by Wednesday, March 10. Unfortunately, we cannot accept any late requests.

Learning option changes will take effect with the start of the fourth quarter on Monday, March 22. No action is required of families who wish to stay with their chosen path.

Throughout the pandemic, we have worked to provide families with in-person and remote

learning options so they can choose what works best for them given their educational needs and health considerations. This third change-request period is consistent with that commitment.

The three learning options available are the same as described at the beginning of the year: In-Person Instruction; Online Instruction; or Parent-Guided, District-Supported At Home Instruction. An explanation of those options can be found at canyonsdistrict.org.

An email with detailed instructions for submitting change requests is forthcoming from the school. Questions? Please contact our school’s Main Office.

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