August 3, 2021
We are excited to welcome you back to the 2021-22 school year! Our teachers are so excited to meet your children as we return to school. There’s no doubt that the last school year was a tremendous challenge for every one of us. While last year may have been one of the most difficult school years, we believe that this upcoming year may be one of the most important! We have been preparing all summer for the return of your students. Following are important informational matters as we begin the 2021-22 school year:
Learning may have been disrupted for some students due to a variety of factors related to the pandemic. Under the direction of our curriculum department (led by Sheri Heiter) we have carefully analyzed student data to determine areas that we may need to focus on as we rebound from the effects of the pandemic. Teachers have gone through professional training in important areas and are even better prepared to address potential areas of academic learning loss. Our school district has strategically distributed Federal Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds directly to schools and they will be developing plans to work carefully with students and families. We encourage you to speak to your principal for local community plans to support student learning.
We understand that as a state and nation we are beginning to experience another spike in COVID-19 case counts. Local and state health officials are beginning to recommend the wearing of face masks when in-doors. While we will invite those who choose to wear a mask in school to do so, we will not require the face coverings. In fact, during the last session, the Utah Legislature passed HB 1007 which prohibits school districts from requiring face coverings in school during this upcoming school year.
Last year, our high school athletes and students participating in extracurricular activities went through “test to play” protocols every two weeks. We will not begin the school year requiring these students to test regularly in order to participate; however, should case counts begin to rise at a local level, we may strategically institute the “test to play” protocol in order to keep our students playing.
We will still be required by the health department to contact trace, notify and inform students and employees who have been exposed to COVID-19. Any student or employee who has 1) been fully vaccinated; 2) had COVID-19 within the last 90 days; or, 3) was wearing a mask at the time of the exposure will be exempt from the recommendation to quarantine. Education leaders across the state have worked with health department officials and legislative leaders to also exempt from the quarantine recommendation those students or employees who agree to wear a mask for the 10-day quarantine period so that they can remain in school.
Our goal this year is to keep students in school! Test to Stay is one more tool that the legislature has provided to help us achieve that goal. Last year, the health department and governor’s office implemented a 1% threshold that required schools with 1% of their overall school population testing positive for COVID-19 (or 15 for schools with enrollment less than 1500) to move into a two-week school closure. This year, SB 107 doubled that threshold to 2% (or 30 for schools with less than 1500 students). Fortunately, SB 107 now provides a way to keep students in school. This is how SB 107 outlines the “Test to Stay’ option: should a school hit that threshold in positive COVID-19 case counts a “Test to Stay” strategy would be implemented. Those students who test negative (school nurses and trained personnel would administer the test) or who are fully vaccinated could continue attending school in-person. Those who test positive (or refuse to test) would simply move to online learning for a ten-day period. It should be noted that with the 2% threshold, Weber School District would never have had to close one of our schools last year.
The Weber School District will not require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19. However, we will partner with the Weber Morgan Health Department to sponsor an after-school clinic for those families who choose to vaccinate their children ages 12-18. Those clinics will be held at select secondary schools during the week of August 30th. A follow-up clinic will be held exactly four weeks after that date at the same location. Of course, participation in one of these vaccine clinics is completely voluntary. Additional information will be sent to you from your child’s school.
This information represents the latest guidance from the Utah State Legislature and the Governor’s Office. We recognize that things could change and new laws would then dictate our policies and practices. As a school board and superintendent, we wish to express to each of you how much we appreciate your remarkable support. We believe we have the finest parents, students and families anywhere! As we work together on behalf of children, we are confident that we can continue to navigate any complexity encountered. Thank you for all you do and we look forward to a highly successful school year!
With Great Respect and Appreciation,
Jon Ritchie – Board President Dean Oborn – Board Vice-President
Doug Hurst – Board Member Paul Widdison – Board Member
Janis Christensen – Board Member Bruce Jardine – Board Member
Jan Burrell – Board Member
Superintendent Assistant Superintendents
Dr. Jeff Stephens Lori Rasmussen Art Hansen