North Sanpete School Board OKs remote learning only at
high school on Fridays
By Marcy Curtis
The North Sanpete School District called a special meeting last week to discuss the uptick in positive COVID-19 cases at the North Sanpete High School.
“When a student tests positive at the high school,” Superintendent Nan Ault said, “approximately 20 other students need to be quarantined.”
With the students constantly changing from in-person to remote learning, teachers at the high school are overwhelmed and having a difficult time keeping up, said Principal Christy Straatman.
“It is very important to keep our school open and to run it as healthy as possible,” Straatman said. “Along with that we need to help lighten the workload of our teachers.”
Straatman proposed changes to hold in person classes Monday through Thursday with a release time of 2:30 p.m. Friday would be for remote learning; teachers would need to still be in the building.
Currently the schedule at the high school is Monday through Thursday from 8:13 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Fridays from 8:13 a.m. to noon.
“Students have been doing a great job with the wearing of masks and being committed to stay safe and healthy,” said Straatman.
Three places with the greatest potential for transmission/exposure are before school, during lunch and after school, she said.
“After school is especially concerning because students have up to an hour of social time with friends waiting for the bus,” she said. “These settings are becoming more problematic during the colder weather because students want to be inside the building.”
With this proposal came a lot of concern about the school’s food program.
“We are an independent business within the district.” stated Karen Seely, the district’s food program coordinator. “With no classes on Fridays that means no meals are served and there will be no reimbursement. There will be no way to get that money back.”
The state currently reimburses the school $3.53 per lunch meal per student. The school would lose $50,000 plus dollars to not have meals prepared on Fridays. Not only would the school lose money, but the loss of jobs are possible. Lunch ladies would lose hours and not be paid.
“My ladies jobs are on the line.” said Seely. “They can’t afford to lose hours. Is the district prepared to cover that?”
Ault wanted Seely to know that they are with her and that they will help the lunch ladies at the high school make something work. If the proposed schedule happens, 600 sack breakfast and lunches would be made and sent home with the students on Thursdays.
“That’s a lot of extra work for my ladies.” stated Seely.
“We will find you help.” said Ault. “Where items are pre-packaged we can have TA’s, students, other employees and volunteers help out.”
With the meeting being presented over a Zoom session, Carol Church, a parent and school district employee, asked: “With the two week directive from the governor, I would expect the cases begin to significantly decrease. Would it be helpful to wait to make a decision until after the two weeks and then Thanksgiving break are over?”
Several others at the Zoom meeting agreed and liked Carol’s suggestion.
“We called this meeting to do something now,” stated school board member Stacey Goble. “Our teachers are needing a break now, not in three weeks, they are tired now.”
Ault replied that this is not a permanent schedule and that it would be revisited at the end of the second quarter or sooner if needed.
A motion was made by school board member Rich Brotherson to accept the proposed schedule changes for the high school to go into effect immediately. The motion was seconded by Shalmarie Morley and the board was unanimous.
A email to parents from Superintendent Ault stated, “The change will reduce the number of potential exposure days each week, allow for additional cleaning, increase time needed for teachers to prepare and connect with our remote learners and give departments an opportunity to provide needed interventions for individuals and small groups.”