Park City teachers split on remote learning

PARK CITY, Utah — Mary Morgan, co-president of the Park City Education Association, said at the Park City School District (PCSD) Board meeting on Tuesday that a survey of teachers across elementary and secondary schools asking if they prefer remote or in-person learning was “literally split down the middle.”

Currently, all schools in the district outside of Trailside Elementary and McPolin Elementary have crossed the original threshold for Test to Stay, which allows schools to go remote for four days this week and next thanks to changes made by the state.

Park City School District COVID-19 dashboard

Test to Stay:

  • Schools with 1,500 or more students have 2% of their students test positive for COVID-19
  • Schools with fewer than 1,500 students have 30 students test positive for COVID-19

Morgan said there are “no specific protocols in place at this moment to address these outbreaks.”

She also advocated for substitute pay to be raised in an effort to attract more substitute teachers.

Last week, the state made changes allowing school districts to go remote as the COVID-19 Omicron variant peaks. They also ended the Test to Stay program. The Legislature had previously banned public schools from going remote for more than one day per week.

Utah Education Association spokesman Michael Kelley told TownLift he expects the legislature to pass something to replace Test to Stay during the 45-day general session that started on Tuesday. Read about a prospective bill that would officially suspend Test to Stay.

On Tuesday, the Utah State Senate moved quickly to terminate the mask mandates in Summit and Salt Lake Counties, which affects public schools. The joint resolution now moves to the Utah House of Representatives.

In a statement after the meeting, PCSD said “in the event the mandate is terminated by Utah legislators, the CDC and the UDOH has continued its strong recommendations that all within the school environment wear face coverings for the foreseeable future. We continue to adjust and modify as the guidelines adapt.”

TownLift reached out to the district to confirm that masks will still be enforced if the public health orders are terminated, and are still waiting on a response.

On Friday, The Park City School District Board voted against four schools — Park City High School, Treasure Mountain Junior High, Ecker Hill Middle, and Jeremy Ranch Elementary — pivoting to remote learning next week, citing equity and the lack of closures around the community. Those were the only four that qualified at that time for remote learning under current state law.

The Salt Lake City School District moved classes entirely online this week, and schools in Davis and Weber Counties have followed.

“The Park City Education Association along with the Park City School District Administrators and the Park City School Board would like to thank all of our teachers and staff for the enormous amount of work they continue to do for our students,” a joint statement said.

“We would like to clarify that as a school district, we are not offering a remote option. Students who are absent from school should check in with teachers as they would for any other absence and follow assignments on Seesaw for grades K-2 and Canvas for grades 3-12.

“As for in-school instruction, we want to remind everyone to continue to follow the mask mandate both on the bus and in school. The mandate was enacted by the Summit County Health Department and has continued to be implemented in our schools as per the order.

“Any student not wearing a mask must have an exemption on file with the school. It is not at all permissible or appropriate for a student to demonstrate defiant, harassing/bullying, or rude behavior towards staff members and those students will be referred to and dealt with by School Administrators. Thank you for your continued support during a very difficult time.”

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