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Staying the Course • Crossing the Finish Line of the COVID-19 School Year

The pandemic finish line is in sight, and — as with any marathon — we need to stay the course and keep up our stamina in order to safely put this test of endurance behind us.

With COVID-19 case counts falling and Utah’s vaccination rates picking up, what safety protocols remain in place in Canyons District schools? Are any changes to the weekly school schedule expected this year?

Canyons District will continue to follow all applicable laws and consult with local health guidelines in determining next steps as we head into the final leg of the 2020-2021 school year. For now, here are the latest COVID-19-related developments and updates:

Are face masks still required in schools, on buses?

Yes. Face masks will continue to be required in schools, on buses, and at the District Office after April 10, even for those who have received a vaccination for the novel coronavirus. A bill approved by Utah lawmakers during the 2021 legislative session ends the state’s mask mandate starting April 10. Schools, however, are exempted from the legislation. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox has said that, in line with the most recent Utah Department of Health order, “the mask mandate will continue after April 10 in schools and for large gatherings.” Canyons will continue to seek guidance from health authorities and update families and employees of any changes in our safety protocols.

How long will Virtual-Learning Fridays remain in place?

The blended-learning model that calls for four days of in-person learning, while reserving Fridays for independent study, will remain in place for the rest of the school year. The expectation is that next fall, schools will return to a five-day schedule. But to preserve planning and collaboration time for teachers this year, and predictability for staff, parents and students who have established childcare and work routines, the Canyons Board of Education on Tuesday, March 16 opted to stick with virtual Fridays through the end of the 2020-2021 school year. It’s a decision favored by the majority of teachers, parents, and students who voiced their opinions via email and through in-person public comments. The schedule has served as a “release-valve” for teachers who have been required to teach changing rosters of students across multiple learning environments (in-person, online and students in quarantine). Students say it’s also helped them cope with the stresses of the pandemic. Many are using Fridays to consult with faculty, receive tutoring, and meet with students in test-prep groups. To further support students with unfinished learning challenges, the District will offer summer learning opportunities. More details about the programs are forthcoming.

Free Social and Emotional Wellness Screenings

We’re nearly one full lap around the calendar since the start of the pandemic, and with vaccinations picking up and case counts falling, the finish line is in sight.

We all look forward to this marathon of a sprint being over. But, as any long-distance athlete can attest, when the intensity and endorphins fade, what’s left are the emotions from the trauma and stress you’ve endured.

“We’ve been on this natural high, and now we’re having to process our thoughts and feelings. In these types of experiences, it’s not uncommon to feel a little let down, lost, and even anxious or depressed,” explains Genny Poll, a social and emotional specialist at Canyons District. “And while this can be a little overwhelming, our schools have trained experts and resources to help.”

In the coming weeks, to help our school communities cope with pandemic fatigue and the prospects of a post-pandemic slump, CSD’s licensed counselors are sponsoring free in-person and virtual wellness screenings and consultations for students, ages 10-18. The meetings are for 30 minutes and scheduled from 4 to 8 p.m. by appointment only.

Space is limited, and interested participants are asked to register for each event separately (see registration links below). Upon registering, families will be asked to complete a screening tool. During the consultations, licensed professionals will discuss available community resources to meet individual student needs.

Mental Health Screening Nights, 4 – 8 p.m.

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CSD to offer popular fifth-grade maturation program online

While growing up can be hard, talking about it needn’t be.  To help families rock “the talk” — even in this pandemic year — Canyons School District is offering its popular maturation program online.

From Wednesday, Feb. 24 through July 31, fifth-grade students and their parents will be able to access the program online at no charge through a password protected link. The presentations are conducted by professional speaker Carrie Ann Kemp who has been educating and entertaining young audiences, and their parents, for 20 years.

Through a time-limited license, fifth-grade families will be able to access the programs for boys and girls through a password-protected link. The aim of the program is to provide consistent, sensitive and approved instruction districtwide. Versions are available in English and Spanish.

Detailed instructions for accessing the courses have been emailed to all fifth-grade parents and guardians.

Families with questions are encouraged to reach out to the Main Office.

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