On April 14, Utah Governor Gary Herbert announced the state’s schools will continue to be closed while students continue learning from home through the end of the year.
At the April 14 press conference, the governor commented that “This is not the time to have our schools back open,” due to the coronavirus pandemic. The state joins others such as Arizona, Oregon and Washington that have also made the same decision.
Gov. Herbert commented that the decision was made with input from teachers and parents.
“We’re tremendously grateful to all our teachers and counselors who are working hard to teach and take care of their students from a distance. I’m grateful for the creativity and resilience of all who are involved,” Herbert said.
“This is not an easy decision to make. It is disruptive and it impacts our children, parents and families,” said the governor.
Students in the Grand County Public School District have been using various distance learning software and techniques since the first announcement of a “soft closure” of school buildings.
Moab resident Annie Thomas has children in Moab’s elementary, middle and high schools. She said that the announcement was “expected.”
“For my family, it feels good,” she said.
Her children are adjusting to having online classes, she said, pointing out that each school is using a different digital platform to teach.
Closing school buildings has suddenly placed parents across the country in the role of guides, helping their children with online assignments. Teachers are available for video meetings with students to help with work and answer questions.
“My son had a Zoom meeting with his teacher,” said Thomas, referring to teleconferencing software, “and it was so cute to hear them talking back and forth.”
“Our district is amazing,” she said. “They've done a really great job putting everything online and as fast as they did.”
“We have family in California and they are still waiting for their online curriculum. Grand County was ready within days,” she said. Her family has been surprised that even classes like music and art have moved online successfully.
Still, the announcement is bitter for the family’s oldest daughter, a senior at Grand County Public High School.
“Last week would have been the start to her senior class trip to Europe,” said Thomas, “and we just don’t know what’s going to happen with graduation yet.”
The Grand County Public School District said that due to the closure, they “will be unable to hold traditional graduation activities,” but are instead coming up with alternatives for this year’s seniors.
“The high school will publish a schedule of alternate graduation activities as soon as one is available,” the district said in a statement.
The Utah High School Activities Association also announced it has canceled all remaining spring activities, including sports and state championships.
In a statement, the board of trustees for the association said that it “recognizes the overwhelming disappointment this decision is for the students and athletes, especially seniors,” but notes that the association’s priorities are with the health and safety of students.