Recent Pandemic Updates

Recent+Pandemic+Updates

Anna Gready and Andee Lyons

When students returned to Park City High School for the 2021-2022 school year, Covid-19 cases throughout the school were the main concern for students and teachers. After beginning the school year strongly, Covid-19 cases have recently been rising which strikes concern for the high school. 

 

The Park City School District and Principal Roger Arbabi have been closely following the Covid-19 cases in the high school and throughout the district. There have been several solutions and ideas rumored and proposed such as a “test to stay” program, mask mandate, or virtual learning. However, despite the upcoming holidays, Arbabi is hoping students will follow simple Covid-19 mitigation strategies to reduce the cases at the high school.

 

As of Monday, December 6, 2021, Park City High School reported three active cases. There were as many as seven cases on December 2nd, just a few days earlier.  This is higher than Treasure Mountain Junior High (two cases) and Ecker Hill Middle School (two cases). However, in certain elementary schools such as Jeremy Ranch Elementary School, they have reached a higher percentage of infected students at 0.64% (compared to Park City High School’s 51)%. 

 

Currently, there is no set point at which PCHS would implement more COVID-19 mitigation strategies.  If the elementary schools reach a two-percent infection threshold, the district will consider a mask mandate or temporary online learning for those schools. 

 

“We are well below that two-percent threshold which some of the schools are operating under. We have 1250 students so two percent would be 25 students,” said Principal Arbabi. 

 

However, the two-percent threshold has impacted elementary schools differently. 

 

“Elementary schools have really been struggling with covid cases and a lot of them have reached that two percent threshold,” said Arbabi. 

 

The idea of a mask mandate in the schools has been discussed throughout the district. However, several factors limit the possibility and practicality of a mandate within the high school. 

 

Due to a Utah State law, school boards cannot enforce a mask mandate without the support of the local health department.

 

“We aren’t allowed to require masks for our students. But if we had a larger number of cases the health department can come in and say ‘you are mandated to enforce a mask mandate,’” said Arbabi. 

 

Following Thanksgiving Break and the upcoming Holiday Break, many are concerned about an outbreak of cases. The previous year, the high school maintained relatively low cases until students returned from Winter Break and more cases broke out, resulting in a temporary shut down. 

 

“Because we will be spending more time indoors and in homes during the holidays, we will probably see an increase in numbers, and we will see how that goes,” said Arbabi. 

 

However, if the numbers substantially increase, it is possible for the health department to intervene and suggest “‘you guys need to put on a mask mandate,’ we will gladly enforce that,” said Arbabi. 

 

As ski season begins, the influx of tourists is also a concern for the state of COVID-19 cases at the high school.

 

“I anticipate that our numbers are going to rise just because people will be traveling and there will be more tourists coming into town,” said Arbabi. 

 

Although there is a concern and several unknowns about the Covid-19 cases at the high school, the administration has suggested several mild mitigation strategies.

 

The high school has implemented the “grab one for granny” campaign, which encourages students to wear a mask to protect their family and vulnerable community members throughout the holidays. 

 

“We always encourage our students to wear a mask when they are inside. Our teachers and staff model that by wearing masks, and yes the vaccination rate is high, but we want to make sure that if breakthrough cases do happen we keep everyone safe as possible,” said Arbabi.