Wasatch School District Approves Plan for Reopening

Woman washes with running water and soap hands. Protection from infection of the new flu H1N1.

Wasatch School District approved their plan for reopening schools at a meeting on July 21, 2020. District plans have been evolving since last March, when kids were sent home unexpectedly due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have worked very closely with [the County Health Department] to put things in place,” Garrick Peterson, Director of Academics, explained. “We’ve put measures in place that make it safe to come back to school for our teachers, our staff, and our students.”

Parent survey results showed 50% of parents desire full-day, traditional school. About 30% of parents chose a hybrid schedule. The remainder preferred online or home-schooling. In addition to parent surveys, the district also met with the district PTA, school PTA boards, teacher’s union representatives, principals, and a working group of teachers, administrators, and parents.

Wasatch County’s school reopening plan gives parents three full-time options.

  1. Full-Day Traditional – This option will include a traditional schedule, increased cleaning, increased hygiene, and masks.
  2. Half-Day/Hybrid – There will be am/pm schedules, increased cleaning & hygiene, and social distancing. Students will continue to work at home for half of the time. High school and middle school students will attend core classes for 2 days a week. They will then watch an online stream from home for 2 days. This will allow for social distancing in those classrooms.
  3. Online – Wasatch Learning Academy (Harmony Educational Services) will provide online learning for K-8, and Edgenuity will be the district partner for Wasatch High School.

Peterson said that the different options, “allow families to assess where they are and how they are prioritizing academics, physical safety, and social/emotional well-being, and make decisions for their families.”

Face coverings are a necessity because of the Governor’s executive order and will be required in classes and on buses. According to Director of Operations Shawn Kelley, the schools will have plenty of masks available. Face shields will be provided for preschool and kindergarten children. Older students will receive “Utah” face masks with adjustable ear straps, custom “Wasatch High School” masks, or “Wasatch” masks. The district has plenty of hand sanitizer, and they even have N95 masks if a child requires one. Students could also choose to alternate masks and face shields if desired.

Students riding on the bus will sanitize their hands upon entrance and exit and wear face coverings. They will also have assigned seating. This will allow for easier contact tracing.

New cleaning and hygiene protocols request that students bring their own water bottles. Students and faculty will also need to stay home if sick, and they must be symptom-free for 24 hours before returning to school. If someone in a class tests positive, he or she must quarantine for 72 hours after symptoms are gone.

Currently, if a person has been within 6 feet of someone with Covid for more than 15 minutes, that person should quarantine for two weeks. However, the health departments statewide believe that wearing face coverings will mitigate the risk of exposure, and so the 2-week quarantine won’t be required for students with a positive-testing classmate. In this situation, parents will be informed and instructed to watch their students for any symptoms.

Blaik Baird, Wasatch School Board President, thanked everyone for their hard work. He also stated, “I think it will be a learning curve in all aspects of this school year. I’m confident we’ll do it to the best of our ability.”

The full plan can be found here: https://www.wasatch.edu/Page/16346.

Heber Valley Artisan Cheese held their 2nd annual Ice Sculptures Exhibition this weekend. Several local businesses sponsored the sculptures being displayed. There were also two different ice carving demonstrations. The event was free to the public.

The annual event began last year when Carolee Kohler saw ice sculpting on a Hallmark movie and thought it would be a fun idea for their farm. They are also considering a woodcarving event.

According to Lindsey Strother, social media and events coordinator, each sculpture takes between 1-3 hours to carve. “We contacted Amazing Ice Creations back in November, and we reached out to local companies to sponsor the ice sculptures,” she said. “Yesterday morning around 9 am, they came in a massive truck and dropped them all off for us, and we set them up.”

Along with the ice sculptures, sponsors receive a sign and canopy for the display and social media marketing. The sponsors decide what they want to have sculpted. After the event, they can take the ice sculptures and display them at their businesses. The creations normally last a couple of weeks. Some will be left in the field and can be viewed throughout the week.

The ice this year included Olaf, company logos, animals, and other items. Darron Kingston, the sculptor, has carved ice for over 10 years with his dad. According to Kingston, “I like sculptures that give me a challenge. Here, for example, my favorite was the lumberjack.” One of his favorite past creations was a 9-foot bear.

Grant Kohler, owner of Heber Valley Artisan Cheese, explained, “We decided to do something that was free and something that people could just get out and come and enjoy. Especially this year with Covid, it seems like Januarys are slow months. People are looking for things to be able to get outside and do.” He continued, “Businesses pay in and buy the sculptures, we have them sculpted, and then we just let people come and enjoy them.” Kohler estimated around 3,000 to 4,000 people will stop by the event.

The dairy farm also offers cheese-making classes and tours of their new robotic barn. “The tours are everyday except Sunday,” according to Kohler. “People hayride over, intermingle with the cows, see the barn and amenities, and watch the cows be milked. The cows will literally go get milked on their own.” Tickets for the tours and other events are available on the Heber Valley Artisan Cheese website: https://hebervalleyartisancheese.com/.