SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A school district in northern Utah has reopened to elementary students after increased pressure from state lawmakers and parents during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Salt Lake City School District board first voted to reopen middle schools and high schools after all teachers and staff were vaccinated, but it extended its vote to open all schools by Feb. 8, KUER-FM reported.
"It's a little scary with the virus still going on," said Marissa Book, who dropped off her kindergartener daughter Vivian at Franklin Elementary School for its first day back on Monday. "But they honestly need it. I feel like she was doing so well and then it dropped down being homeschooled and seemed a little too easy for her."
Salt Lake County Health Department epidemiologist Mary Hill said the schools reopened with all safety precautions and will likely continue to follow measures closely, such as closing a school if 1% of its population tests positive for COVID-19.
The question now is whether bringing older students back to campuses will lead to an increase in social gatherings outside of the school, she said.
"A lot of the transmission, I don't believe, has been occurring in school," Hill said. "I think it's occurring at social levels within kids in a school. They take off their mask, and they go to their social activities and go to each other's houses and play. And then they bring it back to school."
The district, which includes schools in Salt Lake City, was the only one in the state to remain entirely online up to this point, officials said. Other districts in the county have chosen to ignore the guidelines, leading to an increase in infection rates.
Hill said she does not believe the reopening will cause a major increase in COVID-19 cases. But she did say an increase in people coming together could contribute to more infections.