The Davis School District Board of Education voted Tuesday to adopt a two-phase plan to transition students from a hybrid learning model to a full in-person schedule. The board opted to begin phase one on Sept. 28 for elementary students, and Oct. 5 for secondary students.
In phase one, all students will meet face-to-face Monday through Thursday and will stay home Friday for remote learning. Phase two, which is slated to begin sometime during spring semester, will resume the Monday through Friday school week.
The decision came as the district faced strong opposition to its hybrid program from parents. As the meeting began, about 15 people stood outside the building holding posters, one of which said, “Let us choose a 5-day school week.”
“We are denying our children quality education with the hybrid system all because of fear,” said Kelli Packer, a mother who also identified herself as a nurse, during the public comment period of the meeting. “Davis County community cases are low, but it is midterms and my son has been to class six times, compared to the fully open districts’ 23 times. Preschoolers have gone to school longer than my child has.”
Other parents, however, spoke in support of the district’s hybrid model. Amy Cassil is a parent and teacher at Centennial Junior High School in Kaysville. She thanked the district for reopening schools on the hybrid schedule and requested that they continue with this program.
“We have been in school only 12 days, but we have already seen that our quarantine numbers are much less than other districts due to being able to social distance,” Cassil said. “As you know, Utah has been at the very bottom for per-pupil spending for decades. If the state had valued education more in the past, we would be in a better position to be at a full schedule with smaller classes and facilities that could handle it, but that is not our reality.”
The Davis School District, since opening Aug. 25, has seen 93 positive cases of COVID-19 and has quarantined 164 students and staff, according to a new dashboard posted to its website.
“What is interesting, if you look at the quarantine numbers — we have quarantined 164 students thus far this year,” said Assistant Superintendent John Zurbuchen. “If you take the 164 cases that are quarantined, and divide that by the 93 cases that we have, we quarantined 1.7 students — roughly two students — for every active case.”
Comparatively, the Weber School District has seen 21 positive cases and has quarantined 214 students and staff since the beginning of the school year, equaling about 10 students quarantined for each active case. The Ogden School District, meanwhile, has had 12 positive cases and quarantined about 200 students and staff, according to Ogden district spokesperson Jer Bates. The Ogden School District has had to quarantine approximately 17 students for each active case. Both districts reopened on a Monday through Friday schedule, although each also offers a remote learning option.
The two-phase plan selected by the board is the less restrictive of two plans presented by Zurbuchen. The other, a three-phase plan, would have waited to move secondary students to a Monday through Thursday schedule until phase two. Full in-person classes would have resumed in phase three.
“We started in that hybrid model, we found tonight the statistics indicated some great advantages to put us where we’re at right now, and it was the intent as school began to stay within a minimal range statistically of the cases as well as quarantines,” said John Robison, district school board president. “It’s brought us to a place where we’re in a position we can look to move ahead, yet, as we’ve said, it’s a little bit of the unknown what’s going to happen now as we bring more kids into the buildings, but time will tell.”