Thursday, the Salt Lake City School District announced their plans for reopening In a Covid-19 world. If Salt Lake City is at the Orange level (or above) of Governor Herbert’s reopening plans, schools will be completely remote. Better said, parents will be trying to teach kids with some help from teachers. This flies in the face of the the Governor saying that all schools will be in-person [in some form] next year.
However, if they achieve the low risk phase of Yellow, students will attend in-person school two days a week. It appears to be a Monday/Wednesday versus a Tuesday/Thursday in person schedule. High school students would have a similar but slightly different schedule.
It’s important to note, that they don’t provide any option better than that. They don’t talk about a green level where kids go to school five days a week for the normal amount of hours.
I don’t know where Park City schools stand. I have heard that there are groups looking at various options and they have to report by July 20. Then, we have to submit our reopening plans by August 1 to the state.
I had hoped things would be relatively normal. I had resigned myself to a four-day, in-person, school week, like Jordan School District says they are doing. That would be workable at least for our working family. However, if Park City adopts three days of at-home learning like SLC, that is going to be a real problem. How far behind are the kids going to fall?
God help us all.
Here is the letter from the Interim-Superintendent of SLC schools describing what they are planning.
We’re about a month out from Park City schools starting the fall semester. This year will obviously function differently, given Covid-19. We’d expect the school district to come out with plans soon, so we parents know what to expect. However, we know the school district likes to wait and be told what to do from the Governor and Utah State Board of Education.
So, we thought we would present you with what other school districts have decided so far.
So, in NYC, ABC is reporting , “New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a hybrid back-to-school plan Wednesday with most students inside their physical schools just two or three days a week, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it’s up to him to decide whether schools can open at all.”
Here in Utah, Governor Herbert has announced school will be in person this fall. However, that could be a half day a week or some portion of six days a week. We know how politicians like to parse words.
It’s instructive to look at what the Jordan School District down in SLC announced this week. They are one of the first districts to announce their plans and are about ten times larger than Park City with about 55,000 students. They are going with four days of in-person school and one in-home school. According to KSL, “The Jordan School Board unanimously approved a motion Monday that would bring students back to school for in-person classes Monday through Thursday, with each Friday being used for online classwork, small-group learning, and additional teacher consultation.”
What strikes me as interesting with Jordan is that they surveyed teachers and parents on how they wanted the schools to work. The school board went with the option that was chosen the most by teachers and second-most by parents. They deciced on four days of in-person school per week.
It should be interesting to see what the Park City School District does with regard to in-person school. It’s closing in on the time that they should let us know. Are kids going to attend four days a week? Will it be normal with a full four and a half days a week? Will they go half days, with specialists online? Can families opt out of in-person school?
Odds are, they know what they are going to do. Now we are just waiting.
Over the weekend a friend sent me an infographic describing the financial costs of re-opening schools. It shows the estimated additional costs that a school district with 8 schools and 3,700 students will need to account for this year. The additional cost is about $1.8 million. The Park City School District has a similar number of schools but about 900 more kids. So, we’re likely looking at over $2 million in additional costs. It’s mind-blowing.
Perhaps my favorite piece of this infographic is in the fine print. “Model assumes 25% transportation capacity to adhere to social distancing guidelines (Bus fleets would need to quadruple in size to safely transport 100% of students… which is financially unfeasible for districts).” That should make traffic interesting this Fall.
I’m assuming schools will open this Fall. I think it would take a real act of god to get our
legislators from Southern Utah Governor to close schools again. That said, I don’t know how a district absorbs these costs. Rainy day funds only go so far.
I’ve assumed school may look different. Perhaps there will be odd-even days. Perhaps days will be split in two (an 8 AM -11 AM group of kids and 1 PM to 4 PM group) with specialists handled remotely. Lunch may be in the classroom. For younger kids, recess may be limited. Yet I’m not sure how much any of that impacts cost.
This is the time that makes you glad you didn’t run for the school board. For the current board members, I say THANKS. This isn’t going to be easy.
Note: Thanks to Shannon who asked me to check on activities funds and whether they were typically paid by the district. It appears they are a pass through item and I have updated the story accordingly.
Summit County enacted its Covid-19 mask requirement Saturday morning at midnight. On Friday afternoon, The Summit County Council met in an emergency session to discuss the measure and vote it into place. During the public comment, I asked how local businesses should handle those people not wearing masks. The answer wasn’t what I expected.
I expected the County Council to say that ultimately people are responsible for their own actions, that they hoped all people would comply, and they are trying to communicate a “message” to the public to reduce the spiking Coronavirus numbers. That’s not the message I received.
Instead, Summit County Council Chair Doug Clyde said, “You [the business] are obviously going to be required to inform that person that their entrance to your business without a mask is not possible. That will be a requirement. You can’t be a business owner and decide that you are going to ignore this rule. This rule is real.”
What? So Fresh Market should have someone stationed at the door blocking people from entry if they aren’t wearing a mask? Same with Walmart, Smiths, etc.? You want them to enforce your order? It sounds like the County Council does.
That’s an unreasonable suggestion and not what the order appears to say. It says people are liable for not wearing a mask. My personal opinion is that masks should be mandatory statewide. Since the Governor’s decisions control the Park City School District, and I need school to happen this fall, I will do anything to make sure in-person school goes on. Since I live in Park City, and many friends would be financially crushed by no winter, I will do anything to make sure winter isn’t canceled. Masks make sense to me.
And please don’t say masks tread on your freedom. I learned in Civics in 9th grade that “the right to swing your fist stops at the next man’s nose.” There are speed limits. There are DUI laws. You have to wear shoes in a restaurant. I get your personal freedom thoughts (because I am often in your camp), but save them for a better argument.
However, if the County Council says that they expect businesses to enforce their law when it doesn’t seem it’s not actually part of the law, that goes too far. It’s the ammunition that gives people who hate masks ammunition. They say, “The County Council doesn’t even know what it is suggesting.”
So, Summit County businesses, I guess you may be responsible for stopping people from entering without a mask according to our legislative branch — but maybe not the actual ordinance. Are you going to turn people away? What are you going to do?
I get that the Coronavirus response is fluid, but it needs to be better than this.
So, I voted for Canice Harte for Summit County Council. I’m happy with my choice and thankful that I have one. Yet, this isn’t the typical endorsement you’d find in the Park Record.
I don’t personally know Canice Harte. He didn’t coach my kid’s baseball team to some championship. I don’t know if he will somehow cure the corona-virus. I didn’t get a request from the Democratic Party to write a Letter to the Editor in support of Canice. I am pretty sure he won’t find a way to educate Parkites on the proper way to drive through the Jeremy Ranch roundabouts — although I wish he could.
Yet, I still voted for him.
There are two reasons.
The first is the most important. As long-time readers know, I attend many County Council meetings. One day, two Snyderville Basin Planning Commissioners showed up to the County County meeting. They were concerned about the County’s approach to affordable housing at Silver Creek Village — that’s the 1200 unit development being built by Home Depot.
About 300 units are designated as affordable units. The County Council wanted to accelerate the affordable housing efforts and build most of those units in one section of the development at the beginning of the project. They wanted to build them at the beginning of the development, so they could get them done fast, and not put them alongside the other condos and townhouses.
One of the Planning Commissioners in attendance told the council “NO. That’s not right.” He articulated that good affordable housing development mixes affordable housing with market-rate houses. He said that’s how you make sure the community can function well. That way you don’t have the affordable houses all in one section and the wealthy in another.
It frankly makes sense.
Who was that? Canice Harte. He stood up to the County Council. He answered their questions. He provided personal experience. He withstood their criticism… even though he was in an appointed position and could not be invited back.
His willingness to stand up to the County Council was impressive on an issue that matters.
The second reason I voted for Canice is his take on the Boyer Tech Park. As many of you know, a developer wants to build a hotel and apartments on the area located under the Utah Olympic Park. Currently, it is “zoned” for a Technology Park. The idea, forged a decade ago, was trying to get higher-paying jobs to Park City. We wanted to increase the number of STEM jobs around Park City. Therefore, we wouldn’t be as reliant on tourism.
Now, a developer called Dakota Pacific is asking to change the rules. They want to build a hotel, retail businesses, and apartments on the land. This is currently in front of the Planning Commission — which both Canice Harte and Malena Stevens (his competitor) are a member of. The Planning Commission gets to forward a recommendation to the County Council on whether the hotel, retail, and apartments make sense.
My personal opinion is that we need to give the Tech Park a chance, and I don’t believe Boyer did a good job of marketing it. Things have changed because of the corona-virus. Companies want to move out of San Francisco and LA because they are too dense. Why not here? And while we wait, we have defacto open space. Waiting for high paying jobs gives us both open space in the short term and higher-paying jobs in the long-term.
So, in the Park Record’s article on the candidates’ debate they say, “Harte, though, implied that the project didn’t do enough to warrant its approval, saying that his opponent might think otherwise.”
Harte says, “For me, this is simply, we don’t have to do this. Someone’s going to have to show us a really good reason why we want to have a project if we were inclined to do so. They’re proposing 308 affordable housing units — 100 of those are between 40% and 60% of the (area median income) and that will … generate that much need just in the hotel project alone. So it’s not a net gain for the community. If anything it’s just going to break even.”
It sounds to me like he has a high bar for these changes. If we are going to give up the dream of higher-paying jobs here, we better not just give it away. To me, his position is good.
My view is that Canice Harte would provide a critical thinker who isn’t afraid to stand up for what he thinks. I’m sure we are not 100% aligned on every issue; however, I buy his character.
I don’t encourage you to vote for Canice Harte. You have to make up your own mind on the issues. However, I am voting for Canice and would ask you to critically think about this decision. It’s an important one. This decision will impact what you see around the County for the next decade.
I believe Canice will make incremental decisions that make our little corner of the world better. That’s why I voted for him.
Please wear a mask. Please social distance. Please find a way to not spread the virus. All that really matters for Park City, on a number of levels, is Fall and Winter.
We spent the months of March, April, and May in lock-down to keep enough hospital beds available for the sick. Then we come out of hibernation in June and the numbers infected with Covid-19 are skyrocketing. Over the past three days, we’ve had the highest number of new cases since the pandemic began.
Why? Because many people don’t give a shit.
To those people who don’t give a shit, yes, the CDC and Fauci lied to you. Early on they said masks don’t help because they wanted to preserve the masks (that actually do help) for health care professionals. Then the Utah government chose the economy over health and pushed for reopening even though it could lead to a resurgence later (which appears is happening). And yes, the percentage of people dying from Covid-19 is less than 1% in Utah — which is lower than expected (but still sucks if it is someone you know.)
I grant you all that. However, the virus doesn’t care, and if infections continue to rise the State of Utah will have to make a policy response.
An internal memo, circulated Friday by The State of Utah Health Department, recommends going back to an orange level, if the average number of cases doesn’t lower to 200 per day by July 1. Right now, the average is over 400. I’ll include the memo below, but the highlights from the memo include:
- We are in the acceleration phase of the COVID-19 outbreak in Utah
- Since going to yellow, we have increased our number of contacts/case from approximately 5 to over 20. For contact tracing to be effective as a tool to stopping the spread of COVID-19, it needs to be paired with policies that limit the number of close contacts per person.
- IHC is reporting they will run out of conventional ICU capacity in some hospitals in July
- We have heard from the UHA, UofU, and IHC that hospitals are going to exceed their capacity to care for individuals within the next 4-8 weeks.
- [Utah needs to] mandate face coverings, either by government or business enforcement.
- If above isn’t reasonable, we need to be clear with public about why decisions are being made lessening restrictions – economic, not health.
I love that last one. I’d love to hear any politician actually say that, but it’s true. You can tell the Health Department is getting frustrated.
I know there are various opinions on this issue. Some think we should have never shut down the economy. Some people think the virus is all over-blown. Some people think we should have never opened back up. Some people are somewhere in the middle. I can see all sides on that.
Regardless, there are two factors at play here. One is policy response. The other is people response. What’s at stake is the school year and then the Winter Tourism season.
If we don’t get the numbers under control by late July, the Utah State Health Department is going to have to make rulings that impact our schools and thus us working parents. Policy is in play. It could be that some kids go to school Tue/Thur and other Monday/Wed. It could be half days where some kids go from 8 to Noon. Others go from 1 PM to 5 PM. It will be a mess for parents and it will seriously tax teachers. Most importantly, it will be detrimental to our kids.
Then as we approach the Winter, both policy and people are at play. Given how economically driven Utah is, it is unlikely they will shut down resorts. However, if corona-virus numbers are surging, they will likely put additional requirements on resorts. This could derail some plans resorts are currently making to maximize lodging, food-and-beverage revenue, and instruction.
Perhaps, more concerning is what is out of Salt Lake politician’s control… the people. If Utah numbers of infections surge into the Winter, the normal number of visitors are not going to come here, whether we are open or not. No amount of spin about Park City being an outdoor adventure-destination will be enough. People realize that they may spend 9 AM until 3 PM on the slopes but it’s probably not worth it unless you are willing to have lunch on the Mountain and then go out to dinner.
Yes, I know Deer Valley is thinking people are going to drive into Park City for the Deer Valley Experience. Deer Valley’s GM, Todd Shallan, recently said in the Park Record, “I’ve had conversations with people who have said ‘Well, if I can’t fly there from California, I’ll drive. It’s only 10 hours. And I’m going to be there for a week or two weeks, so it doesn’t really matter, I can drive,’” I’m not so sure.
Yes, people will drive from Draper, ski some, and then leave. However, that’s not the thing that supports Park City. If enough people aren’t willing to fly here because either they fear the virus on planes or fear the virus in Utah, then it will be a disaster for many businesses and residents.
Getting our numbers down is the best thing we can do, but we are headed in the wrong direction. About all we can do is wear a mask because the rest is out of our control.
So, please wear a mask. Even if you don’t personally think it helps you, it will help others. You may make it possible for school to be more normal next year. You may personally responsible for saving a local business.
If you do, you are paying it forward.
Please wear a mask!
Here is the memo from the State of Utah Department of Health:
19 June 2020
UDOH Epi COVID Brief
We are in the acceleration phase of the COVID-19 outbreak in Utah. We went yellow on May 15. Our surge in cases started on May 27, 12 days after going yellow. Utahns care about these colors. They change their actions based on them. They are the key messaging tool to the public.
All of our goals are aligned – keep the economy open and prevent deaths/ illnesses. We are quickly getting to a point where the only viable option to manage spread and deaths will be a complete shutdown. This might be our last chance for course correction. Contact tracing and testing alone will not control this outbreak.
Today, we reported nearly 600 cases and that’s without a known outbreak of driving transmission.
It’s over 3.5 times the current rate in Colorado.
COVID-19 patients in the Utah hospitals have increased from a steady 90 to 150 this month, and this increase is from the cases that were identified over a week ago.
IHC is reporting they will run out of conventional ICU capacity in some hospitals in July.
Of the cases, about 8 percent will be hospitalized one to two weeks later and about 1% will die after about three weeks. If trends hold, at the current weekly average of 405 cases/day:
This means around 213 people will be hospitalized per week.
Of those 213, about 85 will be previously healthy working age people. “Low risk” – taken from their family and work to fight for their lives in an isolated hospital room.
About 17 of the 213 will die – another 11 will die at home or in nursing homes. On average, per week, and it’s growing at a rate of 25% a week.
Things we can do now to start to decrease cases and keep the economy open:
If we do not reach a rolling 7-day average of 200/cases per day by July 1, we need to move the entire state to orange. This will send the message to Utahns that this outbreak continues to be a serious problem, and state leadership is committed to saving lives and preventing a complete economic shutdown.
200 new cases / day can likely be managed by aggressive contact tracing, focused outbreak investigations and testing, and pointed public messaging.
We should start messaging this to the public and businesses now.
Put a pause on any jurisdiction lessening restrictions until July 1.
Mandate face coverings, either by government or business enforcement.
If above isn’t reasonable, we need to be clear with public about why decisions are being made lessening restrictions – economic, not health. Be clear about health risk. Be clear about how these decisions are made and who makes them. This will better equip the public to make informed decisions about how to protect themselves and their health.
Below are the key aspects of our response, followed by a data summary:
Contact tracing is a key element to controlling an infectious disease outbreak. However, it becomes less effective as the number of contacts per case increases, and as the public perceives lower risk and does not adhere to quarantine recommendations. Since going to yellow, we have increased our number of contacts/case from approximately 5 to over 20. For contact tracing to be effective as a tool to stopping the spread of COVID-19, it needs to be paired with polices that limit the number of close contacts per person. We are exceeding our capacity to effectively and efficiently conduct contact tracing due to the surge in cases and number of contacts per case.
We need to continue our ability to test everyone who needs a COVID-19 test: close contacts, symptomatic, high risk settings. We must prioritize testing for people who are sick or are part of outbreaks. Speed is critical in identifying these people and baseline testing distracts public health and testing resources.
We have heard from the UHA, UofU, and IHC that hospitals are going to exceed their capacity to care for individuals within the next 4-8 weeks. The metrics on DOMO are only part of the hospital capacity. We must consider staffing, ECMO, and beds for severe cases. Focusing on tertiary care hospitals is crucial. Once we run out of beds at tertiary care hospitals on the Wasatch Front, there is no state ability to care for the critically ill. Maintaining the ability to stand up the alternate care facility will be essential as cases continue to increase.
Protect those at high risk for severe disease
High risk individuals get COVID-19 from low risk individuals. The higher the number of cases in our state, the more likely high risk individuals will get exposed to COVID-19. We must continue our efforts to specifically protect those at high risk for severe disease, while prioritizing policies and interventions that drive down overall transmission.
Protect those at high risk for transmission
We know certain environments are more conducive to COVID-19 spread: crowded, indoors, for a prolonged period of time. We must continue to work with employers in these environments to put procedures in place and engineer the workspace to limit spread. We also need to work with employers to ensure their employees have the ability to quarantine and isolate when needed through paid sick leave and worker protections.
The public equates the color-coded phased guidelines with risk of COVID-19 spread. We must be clear that the color equates with the economic restrictions in place. And that the risk of COVID-19 spread is higher as the restrictions are lower.
I’ve been reading about the various Utah counties that are trying to remain closed due to the Coronavirus. However, it seems the Governor’s Office won’t always allow them. It seems funny to me. Wouldn’t local officials know best for their area, especially when they are trying to be cautious?
However, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Park City Schools have shown they will either be opened or closed at the whim of Salt Lake City. It all seems so Roman.
Over the course of the last month, we’ve seen many events shut down. The Silly Market won’t happen. Deer Valley concerts won’t happen, The Tour of Utah won’t happen. Yet, the public has heard nothing about the Park City 4th of July Parade. It seems really strange.
The 4th of July Parade is like the Silly Market turned up to 11. Tens of thousands of people from Salt lake, and thousands more from the Park City area, are all standing arm-in-arm, mixing their sweat on Main Street and Park Avenue. Then everyone descends on City Park to further sweat on each other, eat burgers, drink beers, and watch some rugby. I do it every year.
However, it’s going to be impossible to social distance. I see no way a six-foot separation could be ensured on the 4th, unless the parade is virtual.
So why hasn’t it been cancelled?
I’d guess there are a number of reasons. Most of them start the sentence with the words “Our economy….” Perhaps they are just waiting to see where things stand. Perhaps the Marsac building is hoping that it can happen for business’ sake. That may be the case.
However, what I wonder is if we could cancel the parade even if we wanted to. Yes, the Days of 47 parade was canceled; however, that was over a month ago. Now, the Governor has shown that he going to open the state up come hell or high water.
After following local politics for years, what I have learned is that our local politicians tend to deal at the bread-crumb level. Yes, those crumbs can influence our lives dramatically and are important. However, most big decisions at the local level take into account the view (and repercussions) from SLC.
So, if the Governor really wants the parade, he’ll get the parade. With the highest level of Coronavirus cases ever reported in Utah occuring today, maybe the Governor will change his tune.
I’d love to get into the mind of Governor Herbert. It would tell us a lot about our collective future.
Last week we wrote that when Basin Rec opened up Run-A-Muck, that they made it too dangerous. They had an entry to the dog park on the east side of the road and the exit on the west side of the road. All visitors had to cross the busy road to UOP each time they visited.
There is good news. Today when I visited, they no longer require that. The trail is still one-way, which is fine. However, you can “legally” enter or exit at trailheads on both sides of the road. No more navigating dump trucks and cars traveling 50 miles per hour, when trying to get your best friend and kids across the road.
Good job Basin Rec. This is a good compromise between traffic and health concerns.
Yesterday, Basin Rec reopened Run-A-Muck Dog Park. We were excited to get back. Yet after experiencing it, I’m not sure the risk-reward is worth it.
For those who haven’t visited Run-A-Muck, it is a fenced dog-park that sits below the Utah Olympic Park (UOP). It covers many acres and legally permits dogs to run off-leash.
When I arrived this morning at the main parking lot, a sign stated that there was only one entrance to the park and one exit to the park. We’d have to walk the park in a clockwise fashion and exit the park through a tunnel about a quarter-mile from the entrance. Then we would cross the road to the UOP to get back to our car.
That doesn’t sound like a big deal until you put it into practice. Navigating a dog on-leash and two little children across a road, with no markings, that construction vehicles frequent, and has a speed limit of 40 MPH is dangerous.
I have no problem with a one-way path around the park, although I’m not sure of its effectiveness in practice. People will be passing each other all the time. However, it’s not a big deal and may help at times.
It’s also nice to see how the park’s vegetation has grown back, with the two-month reprieve from humans and animals. It’s still one of the best places in Summit County.
Yet, crossing that road is going to be a big deal. It’s likely the park will maintain this practice at least through the summer. If so, it’s likely someone is going to get seriously hurt. To at least mitigate the issue a bit, Summit County needs to put a crosswalk between the two parking lots and put pedestrian crossing signs up.
I’m glad Run-A-Muck was able to reopen, but this part of the reopening plan isn’t particularly well thought out. Summit County needs to take a look at this and make some changes. Otherwise, right now, Run-A-Muck may be more dangerous than the coronavirus.
The longer you stick around Park City, the more you realize that we are really ruled by two things, the Utah legislature and the Governor. With all due respect to our city and county councils, most material decisions come back to whether our “benevolent” rulers in Salt Lake City will squash us like a bug.
It’s been no different with the Corona Virus. Take Park City schools, for example. It was obvious in late March that Park City schools would be closed for the year. We even wrote an article about that saying we need to plan now, so teachers have time to get ready. We got push back from the school district saying “it’s not that easy.” Then the governor spoke on April 14th and closed schools for the year. Suddenly, it was that easy — at least for the Governor.
This brings us to present-day where Governor Herbert is “opening up” the state. His plan involves moving from the current Orange Phase (moderate risk) to the Yellow Phase (low risk). Summit County, along with four other counties aren’t permitted to move to Yellow — yet. However, it is expected that next week, the Governor is going to grace our county with the ability to move to the low-risk phase.
Here is what that means, courtesy of the Utah Health Department and Salt Lake Tribune.
What I read from this is that we will be back to business as usual. Restaurants will be open. The shops will be open. You can play sports again. Best of yet, don’t bother wearing a mask unless you are not capable of staying six feet away from someone. Who can’t do that?
Yet, I struggle with the logic of this for Summit County. On the one hand, this could be good for our economy. If people return to their old ways of consumption, our economy will bounce back for the Summer. Yet, if people go back to their old ways of consumption, the number of infected will rise. If that rise is too much and coincides with Winter, we are toast.
Imagine what happens if our Covid numbers start to rise in November. We closed our economy with less than 200 people affected per day in Utah. It’s logical to assume that if we consistently rise up to that level again, we’ll close it down again (If not, then why did we do it in the first place?). As we open up, with few real-world restrictions, people are going to come back. With them will come the disease. As people congregate, the disease will spread.
I fear that we are trading short term gains for long-term pains. Yes, it will likely help local businesses in the near-term to be open now. However, if anything we are doing now leads to Winter being canceled, we will have committed a grave mistake. If Vail, Alterra, and Sundance do not generate revenue this season our local governments will be the ones standing in the bread line, alongside us.
I think the Governor is making a huge gamble by going game-on so quickly. Frankly, we need to keep the fear of God in people through November. People don’t get nuance.
I think that’s the only way we stand a chance of making it to the Winter without a spike in cases. It’s the only thing that will keep the whole thing from being shut down.
If you want to see what that’s like, I would schedule a trip to The Park City Musem (once it’s open) and pay attention to what happened to Park city in the 1950s. It wasn’t pretty.