Summit County Issues Public Health Order for Junior High and Middle Schools
Summit County Health Director Dr. Phil Bondurant has issued a Public Health Order outlining metrics for requiring face-coverings for all public and private middle schools and junior high campuses in Summit County. Under the order, face-coverings would be required if any individual campus reaches a two-percent 14-day COVID-19 positivity rate among the total number of students, staff and faculty. The order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, September 27, and will remain in effect until the termination of the Local Public Health Emergency on December 31, 2021.
“The threshold-based mask mandate in elementary schools can only be successful with community buy-in. Based on the low number of school-associated cases, the data provide evidence this approach is working due to the efforts of students, parents, faculty, and staff. However, as we watch what has occurred in other middle schools and junior high schools in the state, there is a credible threat of increased COVID-19 transmission in schools where there is an overlap of vaccine eligible and ineligible students,” Summit County Health Director, Dr. Phil Bondurant said. “This order provides another mitigation strategy intended to keep our schools open, limit the impact of potential outbreaks, and avoid Test-to-Stay protocols until vaccines are available later this fall.”
All of the county’s middle school and junior high campuses will be evaluated as separate campuses. The order will not apply to high schools. These metrics are identical to those put in place at the beginning of the school year for Summit County elementary schools as an intermediary measure to keep children in classrooms and prevent significant outbreaks of COVID-19. This approach is based on the “Test to Stay” program outlined in Utah Senate Bill 107. The bill requires all Summit County schools with 30 active COVID-19 cases over 14 days to implement COVID-19 testing among students for them to return to campus.
“The Summit County Council is encouraged by recent case counts in our schools but felt additional measures were needed as we await vaccines for five through 11-year-olds,” Summit County Council Chair Glenn Wright said. “Our response remains focused on protecting our county’s vulnerable populations, especially those who cannot yet protect themselves through vaccination.”
To date, no Summit County elementary schools have reached a threshold requiring masks. Summit County Health Department leadership anticipates vaccines will be approved for students age 5-11 before Thanksgiving and is currently planning vaccine clinic operations for students and booster doses for individuals 65 and older.
As cold and flu season arrives, parents and students of all ages are strongly encouraged to follow CDC and state guidelines regarding mask usage, proper sanitization practices and social interactions both in and out of school. These can be found at https://coronavirus.utah.gov/education.