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Park City School District and the Health Department had better figure out what to do with Park City High School amid Covid surge

Cases of Covid-19 are spiking at Park City High School. Currently, 46 kids have tested positive. Normally, more than 30 students with Covid would trigger what’s called “Test to Stay” at the school. This would mean that all students would need to be tested to continue in-person classes. However, due to the language in the Utah Legislation that created the Test to Stay program, if a student hasn’t been in school for the last 14 days, they aren’t counted. Due to the Christmas break, 29 of the 46 cases aren’t counted versus the Test to Stay threshold at PCHS.

So what we have is an outbreak, that can’t be officially treated as an outbreak, because of legislative rules. However, the Park City School Board, School District, and Health Department need to be treating this as a major issue. Covid cases at the high school are going to blow up; Test To Stay will be triggered. The numbers could be so staggering that the Summit County Health Department will have to put in mandates. There may be so many kids out of school that the district has to make alternate plans for remote education.

Why do I say this? The transmission capability of Omicron and personal experience. I got Covid before Christmas. I am triple vaxxed and likely got Omicron while waiting an hour for takeout, while wearing a mask, at Bombay house in SLC. I tested positive for Covid a couple of days later. My kids took a PCR test and tested negative. A couple of days after that, they tested positive. My story isn’t uncommon.

Whether a high school student tested positive on the morning before classes started, and thus they are not counted in the numbers, is irrelevant. Many high school kids are social and likely have spread this to their friends. Their friends will test negative for a bit and then they will test positive. Between the two tests, they will spread it to others.

I would be remiss if I didn’t state that Omicron seems rather benign for many people. It was for my family. However, public policy is not that nuanced. A positive test is a positive test and that will dictate the actions taken. I would guess we will have 150 positives at PCHS within a week. I wouldn’t be shocked if the number stretched to 300 at some point soon.

The question is what the School Board, School District, and Summit County Health Department are doing about this?

Let’s start with the School Board. I was a little shocked that there wasn’t an emergency meeting being held by the Park City School Board. I would think the board would want to discuss issues they find important, given the fact that the high school will likely move to a Test to Stay paradigm. Also, after the debacle at Parley’s Park earlier this year, I would think the board would want to ask some pointed questions of Superintendent Gildea and the district:

  • Have you communicated with the Health Department to ensure there are enough tests (and testing teams) for 1,500 high school students to be tested?
  • If there are not enough tests, and the school goes full remote, has the district communicated with teachers and students on how remote learning will work? Have they planned for reaching out to ELL and disadvantaged students to ensure all students are treated equitably.
  • How will Test to Stay practically work at the High School? Will it delay start times? How do we keep students safe while waiting for testing?
  • For students that choose remote learning, or have to be remote, what plans do we have in place to help hundreds of students continue their learning process?
  • Given the numbers at the high school, can we change any procedures to make students safer?
  • Given student numbers, what can we do to keep teachers safe?

The board may say, we are on top of it, and emailing back and forth to make sure we are in a good place. The problem with that is that it violates Open Meeting laws. The public has a right to know what policy discussions are taking place in an open forum. So, there needs to be an official meeting.

From the School District and Health Department’s point of view, I think their Test to Start program that is available from 7:15 until 9:15 AM at the High School and Ecker Hill is a great start. However, I can’t find any information on Test to Stay protocols, which are likely going to be needed soon. The only mention is that that “At that time [after thresholds are met], Test to Stay protocols will be distributed to families. Compare this to the Alpine School District where they already clearly define what will happen and have a parental consent system ready.

Maybe that’s because Alpine School District has 89 schools and they take it more seriously. However, you’d think with only 7 schools in the Park City School District, we could have a plan ready and posted.

There is a lack of trust with the Park City School District. I ask myself if at 2 PM this afternoon the district gets word that over 30 students at PCHS, that can be “counted,” have Covid, will they successfully execute Test to Stay tomorrow?

Granted, I am a skeptic, but I don’t think so. I think it will be a mess. I hope they prove me wrong. To do that they will need:

  • Top notch communications to the public that explains what is happening and how this works
  • Excellent communciations for teachers/staff to explain how this impacts them.
  • A process for testing all students quickly and efficiently.
  • A mechanism to get parental consent for testing and a way to relay that to the people doing testing.
  • A system for recording all data.

They will need all of this on day one. Whether that is today or next week.

Perhaps I am wrong and we won’t cross that threshold requiring Test to Stay at PCHS. However, we already blew past that, except for technicalities. Perhaps the school district and Health Department have table-topped this, so they have a plan in place that will survive the first encounter with students. That would be great and I would love to be wrong. Perhaps, the school district learned from the incident at Parley’s Park and has spent the month of December planning for this.

However, I fear that the district is so intent on making sure schools stay open that they haven’t accounted for, what seems now, the inevitability.

We should know soon enough.

This is a train headed down the track right toward us. I hope the district has got this. If they do, then it will go a ways toward me believing they have things under control. I would conclude that they have learned from the Parley’s Park incident and it engenders more trust.

If not, it’s likely many key school district players won’t politically survive the repercussions.

More information about Test to Stay is available here.




Does anyone know what happened to the ‘investigation’ into the Parley’s Park debacle? Was anyone on the Board or in the district office disciplined? Or was that just a joke to Summit County Health Department and Margaret Olson?

You bring up all valid points about the Board and Superintendent. So far, there’s been no indication that they are in their offices working on this issue or anything else for that matter.

Andrew Caplan has already lied about the Parley’s Park situation, that they did nothing wrong. From that alone, I assume they believe they can do no wrong by ignoring the pandemic and keeping schools open without a mask mandate. Keep the doors open and people will be so happy with them because the kids are learning in person. Let’s give them a big round of applause for doing nothing. I can’t wait for the next Board meeting where there will be a lot of self-aggrandizement, happy talk, and more lies.

Local newshound

The county attorney’s investigation is ongoing. She said two weeks ago on the news that it would conclude in a week or two so she must be getting close.

Elizabeth Lister

Thank you


Not just the high school! Trust me, this is a district-wide issue!

PC Teacher

“I was a little shocked that there wasn’t an emergency meeting being held by the Park City School Board. … I would think the board would want to ask some pointed questions of Superintendent Gildea and the district.”

Every indication points to this logic being backwards.

The mandate from the school board is clear. District personnel are to stick their heads in the sand regarding covid numbers. District personnel are to communicate to the public only to the minimum extent required by law. District personnel must never encourage vaccination nor mask-wearing to students. District personnel must stay in their lane.

Remember that the backdrop of the Parley’s fiasco was the bond initiative. The board’s goal was to delay the mask mandate, because they saw business-as-usual as an important requirement to getting the bond passed. Calling for the school board to investigate that incident, or any similar incident, is missing the point. Everything went according to plan, so there is no need for an emergency meeting, nor an investigation, nor for anyone to be held accountable.

Dr. Gildea and the entire district office have done extremely well implementing the desires of the school board. The school board will not be asking pointed questions of Dr. Gildea, nor anyone else. You said yourself that the school board is not calling emergency meetings over this type of stuff. There’s your answer.

“I fear that the district is so intent on making sure schools stay open that they haven’t accounted for, what seems now, the inevitability.”

This is also backwards. If no plan for remote learning is made, then the most practical option will be to continue in-person learning during the surge of cases, and everything will have gone according to plan.

but.....We Passed The Bond!

You are 100% accurate (125% accurate, if using Summit County’s new math for vaccination rates). Park City schools got exactly what the population elected, people who have one agenda, and it’s not about students, teachers or education. The agenda was always to pass the bond. They probably updated their resumes the minute the votes were tallied and added that instead of deceiving the community, which is most likely more like what they did, they earned the bond through their business prowess. Anyone who thinks Park City schools are so great because they must be, because Park City is so great, should look at other school districts around the country that are ahead, above, and producing better results at greater speed with more stable employee retention. Lots of communities have much better engagement with their school districts than we do. What Park City school district does excel at is egotism and narcissism. Teachers and students manage the education without support from above. Even though they’ve been doing it for years, it still stings and it still stinks.


Test-To-Stay is likely coming to the high school. They just sent out an email to high school parents asking to complete the consent form as they are anticipating Test-to-Stay in the near future. Interestingly, teachers and students have not received any communication about this idea as yet, and PCHS actually hit the threshold for Test-to-Stay yesterday and again today.


Seems like treasure mountain junior high should be considered for testing also since many of these students take some of their classes at the high school.


PCHS did not meet the threshold yesterday or today.

anon teacher

I got news for you, it’s not just the HS. Elementary is now a steady stream of coughing kids getting pulled out of class. Teachers are working sick and more and more are just gone every day. We can’t get subs and you know who I haven’t seen peeking out from behind their desks to pitch in? I haven’t seen hide nor hair of Andrew Caplan, Wendy Cross, Erin Grady, Kara Hendrickson, Amy Hunt, Shad Sorensen, or Carolyn Synan. 5/7 of them are even allegedly experienced educators. And I definitely haven’t seen Jill Gildea down in the trenches earning her annual half a million taxpayer dollars. They want us in person? Cool. I want them in person.

Also a teacher

100 % agree. Kids coming to school whose siblings are at come sick, no mask requirements or social distancing. I want DO come and sub in our rooms and see how safe they feel. I’m sure they will move the State of the District meeting scheduled for January 12th to be on Zoom but we keep showing up every day without a single safety measure in place.


The board has to go! Every last one of them. This Dereliction of duty is criminal and pathetic. Buh bye!


We did test to stay last school year. Wouldn’t it be similar to that? We did a one day blitz at the high school followed by testing each student every two weeks.


You bring up a good point, but I think things may be a little different this year. First, last year they tested 900 kids from Treasure and the High School. If they were smart and required tests for all TMJH and PCHS (due to the way the schools interact), that would be about 2,000 tests. Even if it just the high school, that is around 1225 tests. That’s a lot of testing, and requires a lot of test kits. If we would have triggered the magical number last night, I wonder if there would have been 1,000 antigen tests available at 7AM this morning for the High School (and 1,000 more tomorrow since they can split it across two days).

Since last year’s “test to stay” things have also been formalized through SB 107. There are formal requirements for parental consent, penalties for not getting tested (remote learning for 10 days), an ability to get tested elsewhere, etc. Perhaps the district had to deal with these complications, last year but I’m not sure.

Finally, last year’s Test to Stay caught 2 new cases. I would guess if test to stay happens in the near-term that number will be at least 10 to 20 times larger.

You may be right that they did it last year, so perhaps they are prepared. It will be interesting to see what happens when it all goes down. I just hope they are prepared.


I actually do believe they have a large number of (enough) tests available. They were anticipating this.


Thanks for the info. I hope you are right and it is managed effectively.

Chaos and Disorder

This statement has been going out to parents whose kids have been exposed in class: ‘This letter is to communicate that an individual in your student’s class has tested positive for COVID-19. Due to the current high transmission rates in Summit County coupled with high case numbers within the district, we are considering all students to have been exposed. School nurses will not be making individual close contact phone calls, please reach out with questions as necessary.’

Yet, today, someone from the inside reported that JUST TODAY they are asking teachers to take attendance carefully because office staff is going to start to contact trace. Huh? Stupid does what?

So let’s get this straight. On Monday students returned to schools from the two week holiday break after everyone knew how high Summit County’s transmission rates are.

Monday, students who tested POSITIVE weren’t even counted in the PCSD case numbers ON PURPOSE.

On Tuesday, school letters started going out announcing that all the students in a class with a covid-positive student are ALL exposed. Don’t bother with how close in contact or IF in contact with, just assume ALL are EXPOSED and potentially infected. Okay, blanket statement makes it impossible to hold anyone accountable for anything. Got it.

On Thursday, PCSD decides to tell staff to start contact tracing. Wait, what? Now? Really? All the horses left the barn a long time ago. All of them. It’s just manure in the barn now.

Does anyone at the top know what they are doing? I bet everyone inside our schools is as confused by the confusion at the top as the confused outsiders are confused by the creation and perpetuation of the PCSD State of the Discomposure. I’m confused. The State of the District is easy to see. It’s CHAOS.

PC advocate for better schools

What we need is common sense locals with a history of Park city and its schools to run for school board. Locals Who have financing and leader ship experience and aren’t hedgefund traders who never interface with the public in their lives and make money off money not off anything that adds value too the economy. We need to vet The candidates who have special interest because of child issues who have their own agenda for directing the schools. The community owns this mess and just like the January 6 riots it needs to be cleaned up and headed in a new direction that is complementary to the wishes and desires of the residents a Park City. There are so many people who have moved here who have influenced the school district because of their own agendas & law suits that it has cast a dark spell on everything from the board to the superintendent. Let’s find a local superintendent. Someone who knows the values of the community and the schools and whose main interest is providing our students with the best opportunities to succeed no matter what their abilities. Catering to the special interests must stop.


Yeah, the “conduct a nationwide search like you would for a CEO” strategy has not worked out well, but we keep doing it. We should be promoting from within, there are plenty of capable people already working for PCSD at lower levels who would make excellent superintendents.

It’ll never happen, though. Changing the board and administration will take a decade, at least, and I honestly don’t think most of Park City even cares. The things that have happened at Parley’s this year (and I’m not even talking about the mask debacle) should have had the parents out with torches and pitchforks, but… nothing.

We’re a rich and complacent town and the board/super have taken full advantage. C’est la vie.


Yup. It’s going to be hard to change. The DO and the board are actively creating a self perpetuating system. Many really excellent and respected PCSD employees applied for the open admin positions this summer. Who got hired or promoted though? Someone who was roundly disliked by a building full of employees. Someone who was willing to follow orders from the DO to the point of breaking the law. And someone who was fired from a previous district bc of the enormous numbers of employee complaints and who is so well remembered for being terrible that former employees are reaching out to PCSD teachers to warn them. The thing is, from the superintendent’s and board’s perspective these were not mistakes or bad decisions. They’re building a crew of micromanagers and toadies on purpose. The only way to solve it during your kids’ tenure is a huge and embarrassing public pressure campaign for Caplan and Gildea to resign.


We’re taking our ball and going home/somewhere else. The general disinterest in fixing the schools that the community has shown makes me doubt it’ll change anytime soon. There are lots of great mountain towns where the schools aren’t run by sociopaths.

Truly a bizarre situation, I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced anything like it – why would parents tolerate this stuff? Having a conversation with one of our top administrators was like talking with Dolores Umbridge. I wouldn’t hire that woman to flip burgers and she’s basically in charge of the district.

Local newshound

Which DO position are you describing here that went to someone previously fired?


She should have been fired for being so vial, instead got promoted because she was already a puppet. Can’t fired them so promote them, history of the district so they do not get sued and have to payout.


The district and board have gotten away with lying and making bad decisions so many times now that honestly they probably figure it doesn’t matter what they do. They’re effectively untouchable.

We will probably sign a lease for a place up in Montana in the next few weeks. PCSD is broken beyond repair, and after years of trying to fix things, we’re done.

Captain Kirk

“Scottie, there appears to be no governing life form here capable of managing a small school district. Beam me up.”


PCSD district office employees have been working remotely this week while teachers, staff, and students were forced to return to school buildings. The only exceptions are Andrew Frink and Amy Campbell. Does anyone else think that’s a load of crap? If you all are wondering why PCSD wasn’t prepared for the Omicron spike, the ring leaders are probably home in front of their nice, warm fires.


So, the District staff has been at home while the students, teachers, building admins, and support staff have been attending a week-long super-spreader event??? Really? That is appalling.


Not true….district staff has been out in the schools helping cover teacher absences and testing.

District Staff

Absolutely false information. The district office was fully staffed, so I am not sure why you believe only two employees were in the office. You should probably check your sources before posting. If your purpose is to cause chaos and mistrust, don’t you think we have enough of that right now. Why don’t we all work together to get through this instead of being so worried about pointing fingers and spreading rumors.


They got their bond money, that all they care about. They treat us like fools and we let them. Need to clean house of all of them board and super and her sidekicks

I don’t get it

28 new cases at PCHS today with the blitz of testing…. now what? Test to stay is not listed as active on the school’s updated homepage.

Classified staff employee

Correction to a comment…to my knowledge no PCSD office employee was home with their feet up…this was an unneccessary, derogatory comment. There were more employees at the office with Andrew and Amy. And most who work from home put in more hours than what they get paid for. Please be considerate of the hard-working district office employees who assist the school employees in the day to day operations behind the scene. Some of the district office employees go to the schools in the morning to help out when teachers and staff are absent which means they are working just not in their office. Be mindful and respectful of people…thanks.

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