School district awaits word on COVID 19 funding, changes in ‘yellow phase’




MANTI—The South Sanpete School District is still waiting, along with everyone else, on any specific changes for public education, under the “yellow” pandemic category that now applies to Sanpete County.

At the monthly board meeting, Superintendent Kent Larsen explained that under the federal COVID-19 packages, $67 million had been set aside for schools, and 90-percent of that is earmarked for local education agencies, to reimburse districts for COVID-19 related costs from March 13, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021. However, how much of that will come to the South Sanpete district and Utah is just not clear yet.

Likewise, there is $29 million in funding controlled by the governor, but again, it is not known how that will be distributed or who it will go to. It is believed the bulk of the governor’s allocation will go to K-16 needs, using survey results, and will include focus areas the governor has the most concern for.

A more immediate concern for district coaches that teach summer camps is whether the new “yellow” category will allow them to have football and other camps this summer. No new information from the health department and Utah Education Association has arrived yet that would allow summer camps. “We’re all still just waiting,” said Richard Squire, assistant superintendent.

The district looked at possible scenarios for going back-to-school in the fall, including social distancing, masks for teachers and students, protocols for bussing, food prep and delivery, smaller numbers of students in classrooms, assemblies and gatherings adjusted to smaller groups, protocols for students and adults, both symptomatic and asymptomatic, and frequent sanitizing of surfaces, hand sanitizers and wash areas.

The district did receive ACT results for the school district, which is included in a separate chart. Basically, the district is running about .5 percent below the state average.

The board worked with Gunnison and Centerfield cities on an agreement for use and maintenance of the baseball fields near the high school. A committee is being set up that will have members from both the school and cities. As part of that agreement, the school district is contributing $20,000 that will help the cities get a grant.

The board also reviewed extensively a technology report by Nadean M. Nielson-DeMill, the district technology director, who explained the district’s response to the COVID-19 virus and coordinating teachers and students using iPads and other devices to do their schoolwork from home.

The district also reviewed plans for school board members to participate in this year’s graduation drive-through ceremonies on Friday, May 22.