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Summit County should charge non-residents for trails use

We have been dancing around the issues for years. Summit County residents fund our trails through property taxes. Most trails are managed through Basin Rec.

Tonight, I sat through a painful Snyderville Basin Planning Commission discussion about whether Basin Rec should be able to add parking stalls near Pheasant Lane near Creekside on the north-side of I-80.

Basin Rec argued that the users of the parking spaces used our trails and therefore, we needed additional parking because there weren’t enough. People against the effort argued that the people who wanted parking don’t live here.

Somehow, our esteemed Planning Commissioners voted for adding parking stalls, even though they acknowledged 80% of the people using them were from Salt Lake.

What Basin Rec doesn’t realize, but they will on the next bond vote, is that if I can’t park at a trailhead I paid for, then they will not get money the next time. My trail dollars do not fund Salt Lake citizens. They fund Summit County.

It’s that simple.

It’s time for enforcement at our trailheads. The people who live in Summit County already support them through tax dollars. If you don’t live here, you should support their maintenance.

It’s no different from a campsite. You camp, you enjoy, you pay. It’s not much money , but you support the area you are impacting.

We need to grow up and make adult decisions.

Now is not the time to change the rules on the Kimball Junction Tech Park

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.


Should we allow the Tech Park by the Skullcandy building to be turned into a hotel, 900 apartments, 200 more rental units, and retail? That is the question in front of the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission. That question will ultimately go to the Summit County Council.

The groups that support the Dakota Pacific developer and their desire for change cite the need for an affordable housing development that is transit-oriented and walkable in Kimball Junction. Critics of changing the Tech Park rules to allow increased development say that we fought hard for a tech park that could diversify our economy with higher-paying jobs and support the community as global warming encroaches on the winter resorts.

It’s been interesting watching the politics of it all. On the for-change side, you have the Summit County staff. According to the Park Record, “Unusually, county staffers also indicated support for the project, among them Regional Transportation Planning Director Caroline Rodriguez, Economic and Housing Director Jeff Jones and planner Kirsten Whetstone.” HMM. Its interesting that they are taking sides, but that’s a story for a another day.

Then you also have an individual, Tyler Quinn Smith from Jeremy Ranch, who has worked in land-use development and espouses “sustainable neighborhoods” writing a Park Record editorial and Facebook post that calls critics ill-informed and the “old-guard.” He also says, “Yet we are far outnumbered by older, wealthier homeowners who judge this project from their personal car windshield driving 60 mph down SR-224.”

On the against-change side, I guess you have that “old guard” in Sally Cousins-Elliot and Bob Richer who were both County Commission Members that approved the Tech Park in 2008. Elliot, commented in an email, “As the ski industry suffers the effects of climate change, we need to look to the future of our economic health. This is the ONLY location where we can encourage high tech diversity in our area with high end jobs. 1100 rental units and a 130 room hotel at this location is the wrong place, wrong time, wrong idea.”

Richer, in a KPCW interview, argued that the affordable units at the development weren’t really affordable with some that could cost $2,300 a month. He also stated that traffic would be worse under the Dakota Pacific proposal versus the slow build-out of the Tech Center. Finally, he said that Dakota Pacific came into this with eyes-wide-open.

I look at this somewhat differently. My day job is in tech, and I don’t know for certain if a tech park will work in Kimball Junction. Like most things, I believe there are few good ideas or bad ideas, just execution. To date, Boyer wasn’t successful. However, I’ve heard second-hand that some executives at the University of Utah Research Park didn’t even know there was a Tech Park in Park City. So, maybe Boyer was just crappy at marketing a Tech Center. That wouldn’t surprise me.

In my mind, Summit County has an ace in the hole with the Tech Park. The way it has played out has afforded us time. Time buys perspective and better knowledge. Who knows how this COVID thing plays out. Is it done in a few months or does it stretch for years? What does Park City and the Snyderville Basin look like afterward?

What does development in Wasatch County County look like when it gets going — including Mayflower. How many additional residences will there be on Park City’s doorsteps? 8,000? 20,000? More?

Closer to home, and already approved, we have Silver Creek Village, Park City Heights, the Canyons build-out, and Discovery (by Summit Park). Have you been out to Silver Creek Village lately? That’s the development with 1200 units out by Home Depot. If you haven’t you should take a look. I did, and I’m not sure what to make of it. I have no idea how that development will ultimately work, function, or tie into transit. I’m not sure of its broader impacts on the framework of the Basin and Park City.

The same can be said of the impacts from PC Heights, Discovery, Canyons, and the Wasatch County developments. What are the needs of the Snyderville Basin once the approved developments around us start to take form and begin to function? Do we need another school? Do we need parks? Do we need baseball fields? Do we need recreation facilities? Do we need a Tech Park, Do we need another hotel? Do we need apartments?

I don’t know.

We the people of Summit County have something very valuable in our possession with control over the use of the Tech Park. We have a piece of land that is defacto open-space that can become anything based upon the rules that we set. Some day it will be developed into something. It may become a Tech Park. It may become apartments. It may become forever open-space. It may become something we never thought we needed in 2020.

I would argue that if we allow Dakota Pacific to develop this right now, we are giving it away. We are trading our future for… I don’t know what… making the developer money?

I have not seen anything compelling enough from the developer to change the rules on this jewel. It’s just not worth it.

Tolstoy said the two most powerful warriors are patience and time. I believe if we have the patience, we will be provided with the time to make an optimal decision for the long-run of the Snyderville Basin and Park City. By waiting and turning down Dakota Pacific’s offer, I believe we will ultimately find a better use of the land.

Tomorrow’s the final day to enroll for remote-learning

Smoke ’em if you got ’em.

Tomorrow’s the “final” day to enroll in remote learning in the Park City School District. If your child will be choosing this option, you need to complete the Remote Learning Form. More information on remote learning at the PCSD can be found here.

If you have been on the fence, now is the time to decide. The school district needs in-person/remote class numbers to plan appropriately. I’m frankly amazed that a week and a half is enough to adequately plan. So, please keep our community and teachers in mind and make your decision on time.

That said, the school district isn’t doing itself any favors on this topic. I’m often amazed at how poor communication can be from our schools on some topics, especially when their business is education. Just for fun, go to the Park City School District Home Page and let me know if can easily find the Remote Learning Form?

Maybe I missed it and they are blitzing parents with emails on the subject. Could be.

Maybe I’m blind and there is a gigantic button at the top of the school district website. If so, I didn’t see it.

Maybe there have been multiple posts on the district’s Facebook page helping them register for remote learning. Could be but all I see as of 1:30 PM on Thursday is something about graduation from two days ago.

Regardless, if they make it hard to register for remote learning, the district is going to get results later than is optimal. So, don’t be surprised if you can actually register for remote learning until August 19th.

Good luck with that teachers.

UPDATE (8/7/2020): Looks like the school district added links to the remote form on their Home Page. That should be helpful.

Israel’s school reopening failure shows Park City Schools it’s all about how you execute

If you are teacher who will be teaching this fall…

If you are an administrator who will be running schools…

If you are a leader in the Park City School District…

There is one article you should read today in the New York Times. “When Covid Subsided, Israel Reopened Its Schools. It Didn’t Go Well.

I know there is a lot of debate among teachers, parents, and others about reopening schools in Park City. Two weeks from now, though, it is happening.

Here’s what happened in Jerusalem according to the Times, “Confident it had beaten the coronavirus and desperate to reboot a devastated economy, the Israeli government invited the entire student body back in late May. Within days, infections were reported at a Jerusalem high school, which quickly mushroomed into the largest outbreak in a single school in Israel, possibly the world. The virus rippled out to the students’ homes and then to other schools and neighborhoods, ultimately infecting hundreds of students, teachers and relatives.”

The problem was that schools caved to pressure from parents. “Then a heat wave hit. Parents complained that it was inhumane to make children wear masks in steaming classrooms where open windows nullified the air conditioning. In response, the government exempted everyone from wearing masks for four days, and schools shut the windows. That decision proved disastrous, experts say.”

Instead of closing schools, they told students they could take off their masks because it was so hot. They closed the windows. That removed the benefits of ventilation. They made bad decisions. They didn’t execute.

One bad decision, driven by parents and accepted by schools caused a catastrophe. In Park City … parents, students, teachers, administrators, and the district personnel will all have the chance, many times a day, to make good decisions or bad decisions. Those decisions could keep us on the path to making it through the year or careen us into the ditch. This can’t be emphasized enough. We all need to work together to give education a chance, but any single one of us can ruin it.

So what happened in Israel? Two students in one high school tested positive. Then the whole school was quarantined and everyone was tested. Sixty percent of those infected were asymptomatic. “Teachers, some of whom had been teaching multiple classes, suffered the most and a few were hospitalized, the principal said.

This is what happened across the country next, “Seeking to contain the contagion, the Education Ministry vowed to shut any school with even one Covid-19 case. It ultimately closed more than 240 schools and quarantined more than 22,520 teachers and students. When the school year ended in late June, the ministry said, 977 pupils and teachers had contracted Covid-19.”

Some people in Park City would argue, “can you even open schools safely?” It’s a fair question, but that debate has passed. Now it’s all about the execution. What’s at stake are lives and in the broader sense the Park City winter season. If that goes away, much of the best parts of Park City will go with it and may not come back.

Every day, every student, parent, teacher, and administrator has a part in a grand game. Can we generally do the right thing? Can we make good decisions? Can we have discipline?

If not, Israel’s experiment tells us what it will look like.

And if we look like this school in Georgia on its opening day, we know where we are headed.

North Paulding High School, Dallas Georgia

The Utah Governor’s guidelines on school reopening borders on insane

Ok Park City Teachers, now I’ll forgive you if you strike, just don’t come to school, or lobby hard to be one of the remote-teachers. In what may be some of the craziest talk I’ve heard from a Utah official (and that says something), Governor Herbert today provided 102 pages of guidelines on reopening schools. Some of it is downright crazy.

Here are some highlights of the guidelines from the Salt Lake Tribune:

Officials have come up with a concept they call a modified quarantine. This means children can immediately come back to school after close contact with someone who has the corona virus — as long as the child doesn’t have symptoms and no one in their household has tested positive. Translation: Don’t worry, this thing doesn’t spread asymptomatically at all. If a child doesn’t have a fever, he cannot get anyone else sick. Please ignore just about everything you have ever read about this virus. It’s all going to be OK. We NEED your kid in school.

Teachers can also feel free to come to school after being in close contact with someone with Covid-19, “especially in cases where there are no substitutes available. If having a substitute teacher will negatively impact student learning or there is not another employee who can do the job of the person who was exposed, teachers and employees who have had an exposure to COVID-19, but who do not have symptoms, may go to work.” Translation: Teachers stay home if you’re sick, unless of course there aren’t enough substitutes, which there won’t be because substitutes aren’t stupid. So, please come to work and infect your co-workers and students. We need you.

A school should only shut-down after 15 concurrent cases of Covid-19 at the school. Then they are remote for two weeks and then back to school. Translation: Ignore exponential growth. Pray for R0 to stay under 1.

A class should be remote-only after 3 concurrent cases in the class. After two weeks, they are back. Translation: See 15 per school above. However, the 14 day rule makes some sense given research that says people are only contagious for 11 days after symptoms appear. But please ignore that 3 other people probably got Covid in the class and they will show symptoms right about the time everyone returns.

However, if a student is exposed to someone with Covid-19, they are prohibited from clubs and sports because  “it increases the number of people they may expose to the virus that causes COVID-19.” But they can come to class and school. Translation: You are much more likely to spread corona virus on a well-ventilated and outdoor soccer field than you are sitting in a classroom for six hours, with 30 other kids, 4 feet apart. The scientific minds at the state of Utah never cease to amaze.

The guidelines highlight that students, teachers, and staff are likely to be exposed “many times during the year” to Covid-19. Translation: Schools are going to be like those chicken-pox parties during the 1980s. Yeah, let’s get everyone infected so they don’t get chicken pox again. SHHH don’t tell them about shingles.

When a student or teacher contracts Covid-19, the entire class or school will not be informed. Only those people who have come into contact within 6-feet for 15 minutes or longer will be notified. Translation: If we tell people that other people around them at school have Covid-19, those people may get tested too. That would make our case numbers look really bad once school starts. That could shut down schools and we will do whatever it takes to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Schools can make a list of high-risk individuals. Then those high-risk individuals who have been in the same room as the infected person will be notified of Covid-19. Translation: Park City Schools should list all teachers and children as high-risk.

Janitors should wait 24 hours before disinfecting a classroom with an infected individual because that will give the virus time to die-off. Translation: they haven’t read that the virus lives on glass for 4-days. Furthermore, they don’t seem to realize that in that 24 hours, unless the classroom is entirely shutdown, that the entire class will be in the classroom the next day without it being sanitized.

If you are a glutton for punishment, you can read the entire 102 pages of guidelines below. If you’re like me, you’ll start reading the document and think some of it is reasonable (which it is). You’ll read something that says children and teachers should quarantine for 14 days if they’ve been exposed to someone with the virus, and you’ll think, “yeah that’s what I have always heard. What is the Park Rag talking about?” Just keep reading the guidelines.

Then you’ll learn about modified quarantine which says children who have been in close contact with Corona Virus can keep on coming to school, as long as they are symptom free. You’ll learn that teachers should quarantine at home upon exposure, unless there is no one else to teach their class. You know, because teaching is more important than the health of everyone at the school.

This whole thing is kind of bizarre. I feel for you teachers. This document is the opposite of whatever would inspire confidence. I’m probably still sending my kids to in-person school. Mostly because I hope the rest of you parents aren’t crazy enough to do that :-). That said, this makes me strongly reconsider in-person learning.

Utah Education Association demands schools be online-only this fall

The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that “The largest teachers union in the state is calling on Gov. Gary Herbert to keep Utah schools closed this fall — saying it’s too dangerous for educators and students to return while cases of the coronavirus remain high.”

The union wants schools to start ONLINE-only in August. My bias is that I am planning on returning my children to in-person school in the fall. My reasoning is that:

  • My wife and I both work, which makes remote-learning difficult.
  • The research also shows that young children (we are in elementary school) are less likely to spread the virus and therefore they aren’t the petri-dishes we assume they are.
  • I don’t believe that I educate my child as well as a professional teacher does.
  • I don’t believe that our teachers have enough training and/or direction to ensure remote-learning is as effective as in-person learning.

Those are my reasons.

Don’t get me wrong, i understand that some families have decided on remote schooling. That’s understandable. I also understand that teachers are scared. I’m scared for my kids. I’m scared for their teachers. I’m scared for my kids’ grandparents who are the most impacted. This is serious.

Yet, I feel like the subject keeps being treated as a blip versus the new normal. Nothing will fundamentally change by Christmas in the Corona-world. Even if they find a novel vaccine to the novel Corona virus it won’t be widely distributed. So, if we do remote school-only in August it is really remote-school throughout the year. It’s a long year.

So, if the UEA pushes this and forces remote schools, that’s OK. I get it, teachers have decided that’s the way they want to roll. I’m Ok with that and our family will adjust. However, along with agreement, comes high expectations.

If remote-school is demanded by the teachers, then they have to deliver. Education had better be better than ever. I better be able to plop little Bobby down in front of his iPad for six hours a day and learn just as much as he would have during in-person school. I’m not the teacher, the real teacher is the teacher. That’s my expectation.

That’s frankly the challenge.

Are your kids going in-person at PC Schools? Time to order a thermometer.

My six-year-old was standing in line this morning to get his temperature taken at today’s camp de jour. At every summer camp we have attended this year, all kids have their temperature taken each morning by the camp’s staff. That’s a good thing. It may not be perfect but it likely screens out some kids who have the flu, a cold, or Covid.

This fall, if your child is attending Park City Schools in-person, part of your responsibility in this grand-experiment is making sure your child isn’t sick when coming to school. We all need to do that, or this house of cards is going to come crashing down sooner than any of us want.

The lowest level test you can perform is ensuring your child’s temperature is normal. That means you should take your student’s temperature every day before they come to school.

I knew that, but hadn’t really mentally processed it until this morning. Then I realized, I am going to have to take temperatures five days a week, for two children, for months at end. While we have a good thermometer, it’s the in-ear style that can be very accurate but can be a pain in the butt to use.

So I ordered a touch-less thermometer that gets good ratings (and passes Fakespot) from Best Buy. It’s something that should be easy to use and something my kids should be used to thanks to this summer.

If you don’t have a good thermometer yet, now is the time to order. It can take a week to receive a decent thermometer at this point. I can only imagine what it will be like as schools begin to open. I know a post like this is in the weeds, but if your child is safer, then my child is safer. If our children are safe then our children’s teachers are safer.

As we approach the school year, it’s going to be harder to find the good thermometers. Please take the opportunity to order one if you haven’t. It will make things much less stressful and safer for everyone.

Some information on what Park City remote learning looks like for elementary schools

Every student in the Park City School District has two district-offered options this fall. Students can attend in-person school or students can attend remote school. If parents don’t choose an option, their students will be enrolled in in-person school. If parents choose the remote option, they need to declare that by August 7, using this form. If you can declare it earlier, that will help the district plan more effectively.

For elementary schools, remote learning will require a one-term commitment. A student can not vacillate between options. Classes will be taught by a Park City School District teacher, so your kid won’t be pawned off to Kahn Academy. That said, you still do have the option, like you always have, to use third-party, online educational services.

For remote elementary learning, we don’t know who a student’s teacher will be yet — and it is likely the school district doesn’t know yet either. Will it be one of the teachers that normally teaches your child’s grade at your school? That’s unlikely unless 25 children sign up for remote learning from one grade at one school. So, it will likely be a teacher teaching multiple grades that may come from your school, another school in PC, or at the district office. That likely all depends on how many children and the distribution of children that select remote learning by August 7.

If you select the remote option, it won’t be like the spring. There will be a schedule that your child must follow. The current plan is for live check-ins to be at 9 AM and 12:30 PM. So, your child must be there for those or they won’t be counted in attendance records. Then there in Math, Reading, Science/Social Studies, PE/Coding/Arts/Music, independent work, writing, and small group and one-on-one time. Recesses, breaks, and lunch happen throughout the day.

Through second-grade, remote education will be done through See-Saw. Canvas will be used for 3rd through fifth grade. By declaring which tools will be used, the district has answered one of its largest criticism form the spring: too many tools were used and parents often didn’t know what application to use. The downside of this is that elementary teachers, who haven’t used Canvas before, will have to learn it.

The district at least has a plan for the semester, which is good. There are a number of issues up in the air, but that’s to be expected. Plans also change, so things could look a little different in a month and we should know more as we get closer to August 20. That said, at least there is some information to choose whether you want your child to attend remotely or in-person.

Here is a sample First Grade schedule provided by the Park City School District.

My notes from Park City School Board meeting on reopening schools

If you have kids in Park City schools, you’ve probably been following the school reopening plans. School will go on — on August 20th. It sounds like schools will continue throughout the year over hell and high water. You have two options, in-person and online.

In-person will be a corona-ized version of what we are used to. Online will be taught by PCSD teachers. Buses will run on their normal routes. Before I get into thoughts on reopening, here is my bullet-point list of items I sent to a friend as meetings were going on.

  • They are going to wash their hands a lot. Studies show that is important.
  • They will send home a magnet that tells people how they should check their kids for symptoms every day.
  • Every kid gets two CC, double-layer, microbial gators. A double layer has shown more effective.
  • Masks must be worn on buses
  • Teachers will get masks and can also wear a face shield
  • There will be a video with a calming voice, like when you get on a Delta Flight and they tell you what to do when the plane crashes, that will reassure children that everything is going to be OK.
  • Kids should be practicing wearing masks from August 1.
  • Hygiene posters will be in every class telling students (that are old enough to read) how to wash their hands.
  • PCSD decided on in-person because of social equity. This way can help equity.
  • In-person will be done by a PC school teacher
  • Remote will be done by a PC School Teacher “down the hall.” If a child needs to stop in-person because they get suck or their parents get sick they can go remote. [Note: this was somewhat contradicted in the PC Ed Foundation meeting because they said students would need to stay in-person or remote for a quarter. So not sure about this.]
  • Remote attendance will require remote students to be online at certain times.
  • June survey said five elementary kids per school would be remote.
  • Not doing a split schedule because we don’t have 38-40 kids per class like some places in Utah.
  • Teacher subs will be assigned to one school. They will not float.
  • Dual immersion students should attend in person (recommended).
  • Increasing fresh air to 50% in all schools… so dress accordingly. It may be COLD in the morning in schools.
  • Lunch will be grab-and-go. Assigned seats will happen at lunch. High school kids may get to pick the table they are assigned to.
  • A parent developed a new computer program called Health Attend. PCSD paying $1 a year for it. Parents will be able to look at how many people are sick in classes and make decisions on whether they should send their kids to school.
  • The school is responsible for contact tracing in the event of a coronavirus case.
  • The district is planning for intermittent attendance.
  • Encouraging kids not to use lockers.
  • PCSD is not using a purchased curriculum.
  • Teachers will come back two days early. Teachers can take a seminar on how to teach remotely. Teachers must rely on their Principals. Teachers are empowered to innovate.
  • K-2 will use See-Saw. 3rd grade through 12th will be Canvas. Teachers in 3rd to 5th grade need to learn Canvas.
  • DLI 1st-5th should be done in-person but can be done remotely but not as well.
  • Every school has an ionizer for air. They purchased those in March. Installed Merv 15 filters. Anything larger than 3 microns is filtered. Should help with mold, pollen, etc. as well as Corona.
  • There will be mask breaks for elementary. Playgrounds won’t require masks.
  • Schools will remain in-person full-time unless Summit County moves back to Orange and then schools will be a hybrid in-person/remote model. Red would mean fully remote.
  • You have until Agust 7th to register your child for remote learning. Otherwise, they will be in-person by default.

So, those were my notes from the school board meeting and parts of the PC ED Foundation meeting. I don’t guarantee that the district said everything correctly or I captured it correctly but it should be generally correct.

Opening Park City schools full-time is a polarizing issue

I’ve said before that I commend the Park City School District on giving people the heads up that schools will be open for business this fall. However, I am hearing from teachers with major concerns about safety. I also get that.

We won’t really know the details about how schools will operate until the Park City School District formalizes plans. Those will take time.

I don’t have answers, but the way I am starting to look at it is in the form of a question. Is in-person teaching an essential “business”?

I know the people working at most medical facilities are considered essential. I know that police and firefighters are essential personnel. I know that the people checking me out at the supermarket are considered essential.

Are teachers?

The argument could be made that at-home learning, with teacher assistance, fills the need. I think many of those who experienced it in the spring would say the quality was as good as could be expected given the circumstances, but it wasn’t up to normal standards. Yes, some teachers did a bang-up job. However, from many conversations I have had, at-home learning would have to be generally more effective this fall and MUCH more than a stop-gap measure to make it a viable alternative.

Frankly, from what I have heard around our community, the district was given a pass on education this spring from parents. It doesn’t sound like they will be as forgiving this fall if education is at-home. That could lead to a number of issues. I think the Administrators at the Park City School District know that.

All of that said, it doesn’t alleviate the fear of teachers. Above, I’ve written about parents’ expectations and learning. Teachers have to deal with that, but they also have to consider the their health and that of their families.

It’s not easy.

I’d bet we are about to hear from the Park City Education Association on the matter. Get ready to read a number of editorials in the Park Record. Of course, if you want to write something here on the Park Rag, please email us. I want to represent as many viewpoints as possible. We’ve had over 1500 views on our story about PC schools opening. So, you will have an audience.

My guess is that things are about to get more polarized across the community. It will be interesting to see how this all works out.