USD Safe Return to School Plan

USD Safe Return to School Plan
Posted on 08/02/2021
This is the image for the news article titled USD Safe Return to School PlanAs we prepare to start the 2021-2022 school year, Uintah School District is committed to providing students and staff with a safe, effective learning environment while honoring personal freedoms and individual choice.

As of Friday, July 30, the district had not received any new guidance about COVID-19 from the Utah State Board of Education (USBE) or the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA). In the absence of input from the state, we have developed a framework that should help us make appropriate decisions if/when additional guidance or directives are provided.

First, a few key points:

1. Uintah School District will NOT mandate or require masks. The decision to wear a mask during the upcoming school year will be an individual choice. This could change, based on regulations, mandates, executive orders, laws or court rulings the school district is legally required to follow.

2. Each school within the district will implement a zero-tolerance policy to prevent individuals from being bullied or harassed based on their decision to wear or not wear a mask while at school and during school-related activities.

3. Uintah School District Policy 007.0135 addresses immunization requirements, the immunization exemption process, and the actions the district will take in the event of an outbreak of a communicable disease. COVID-19 is a communicable disease.

4. The vaccine for COVID-19 is NOT required by the state of Utah for student enrollment; therefore, Uintah School District does NOT require a COVID-19 vaccination for enrollment in its schools. Teachers and staff are NOT required to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

5. Students participating in extracurricular activities, including student-athletes, may be subject to COVID-19 testing on a regular and/or as needed basis.

The district will use two guiding principles in its decision-making process this school year. The intent of these principles is to balance the safety of students and staff with the need to provide educational opportunity for all while respecting personal freedoms and individual choice.

Principle #1: Keeping our schools open for safe face-to-face learning is critical.

• It provides the best opportunity for all students to learn and grow academically.

• In general, students maintain better social and emotional health when they can regularly interact with their peers, teachers, advisors, and coaches.

• Students can participate in extracurricular programs when schools remain open, which helps them develop valuable life skills outside the classroom.

• Keeping our schools open helps keep our local economy moving.

• School is a safe place for students when their parents/guardians are at work.

Principle #2: Respecting the exercise of personal freedom and individual choice, to the extent feasible, strengthens the connection between our community and our schools.

• We live in a community that places a high value on personal freedoms and individual choice.

• Uintah School District respects the diverse opinions and beliefs of staff, students, and community members. Seeking to understand differing views through the civil exchange of ideas creates a more supportive and inclusive educational community.

• Honoring personal freedom and individual choice provides students and their parents/guardians with a sense of ownership in the school district and in their education.

Uintah School District pledges to use the two overarching principles described above as its compass when making future decisions about how best to keep our students and employees safe, and our schools open for face-to-face learning.

Each school will continue to use the district’s Risk Mitigation Protocol. Extensive sanitation and cleaning of high-touch surfaces will take place this year. Proper handwashing will also be taught and encouraged. Whenever feasible, physical distancing and cohorting of students will be facilitated.

Students, with help from parents/guardians, are expected to symptom monitor and stay home when sick or symptomatic. District employees are also expected to stay home when sick or symptomatic. Anyone with obvious symptoms of a communicable disease, including a fever, will be sent home.

When a COVID-19 exposure or outbreak occurs, students will be given the option to either produce a record of a completed COVID-19 vaccination or “test to stay” in school. Students who are quarantined can participate in their coursework virtually.

The district will do its best to normalize the upcoming school year for our students and staff. We also recognize that the scientific understanding of COVID-19 and its variants continues to advance. There is no way to predict exactly what the coming year will bring. The district understands that uncertainty and change are stressful. We ask for your patience as we navigate any new regulations, mandates, executive orders, laws or court rulings because we truly want what is best for our kids, our employees and our community.
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No district employee or student shall be subjected to discrimination in employment or any district program or activity on the basis of age, color, disability, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status. The district is committed to providing equal access and equal opportunity in its programs, services and employment including its policies, complaint processes, program accessibility, district facility use, accommodations and other Equal Employment Opportunity matters. The district also provides equal access to district facilities for all youth groups. The following persons have been designated as Title IX coordinators to handle inquires and complaints regarding unlawful discrimination, harassment, and retaliation: Dr. Mistalyn Leis, Human Resources Director (435) 781-3100 and/or Dr. Dean Wilson, Student Services Director (435) 781-3100. You may also contact the Office for Civil Rights, Denver, CO, at (303) 844-5695.