With a focus on health, wellness and learning, Canyons District has developed a Back-to-School Action Plan to guide operations for the 2020-2021 school year. 

The plan, approved by the Canyons Board of Education on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, was required by the Utah State Board of Education, which has directed all Utah public schools to create a plan to return to school safely. The plan will be submitted to state education officials on Aug. 1.

“The Canyons Board of Education recognizes the significance and importance of returning to school safely, and we truly appreciate the contributions of Canyons administrators, faculty, staff, parents and students as we developed our Back-to-School Plan together as a community,” said Nancy Tingey, President of the Canyons Board of Education. “Our plan provides high-quality educational options for parents in online or in-person formats, cleaning and safety protocols to protect students and employees, and social-emotional supports to help those who are struggling during a challenging and uncertain time. While our plan addresses many issues, we realize the plan may not address all needs or expectations. As in any other school year, the District and school administrations will problem-solve unique situations as they arise with individual schools, students, families and employees.”

Canyons District’s detailed plan, which features the option for parents to decide if their children will be taught in-person or via online formats, was created in accordance with guidelines established by the state board.

The District also aims to aid families who technically enroll their children in a Canyons school but wish to guide their child’s personalized learning. Because these students would be enrolled in a Canyons school, they would have access to counseling and other social-emotional supports, nutrition services, extracurriculars and other programs and initiatives. 

Students who take advantage of the online learning options may participate in extracurricular activities with the school in which they enroll during the Online Registration process, which begins July 27, 2020.  Students in the online classes will be following the same CSD curriculum maps as those in the in-person classes so all students will be able to seamlessly move between formats.

Extensive cleaning practices for facilities and buses are outlined, as are the expectations regarding the required use of face coverings in schools and on buses, per an order by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert. 

The plan also addresses how Canyons will pivot quickly to online-learning-only in the event of a widespread closure of schools, the process students and employees follow if they are ill or exposed, and steps schools will take to maximize the use of their entire buildings to promote physical distancing.

“Restore, reimagine, and renew are the guiding tenets of our Board of Education-approved Back-to-School Action Plan, which adheres to the state’s explicit re-opening guidelines and was crafted with input from families and employees,” said Canyons Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins. “Our commitment as a public school system is to support parents in getting back to work and students in continuing to learn and grow. To the degree that we can restore a sense of normalcy and resume familiar school traditions, we should. We also know we need to take safety precautions and be nimble and prepared for whatever changes and challenges come our way, including the possibility of local outbreaks of COVID-19. Put simply, we have an opportunity to reimagine how we teach while renewing our commitment to the Canyons District mission of preparing all students for college and careers.”

Robins said the plan was created with vast input from the Canyons community. “Over the past several weeks, we have reached out to parents and employees for feedback on our proposed re-opening plans,” he said. “We received hundreds of emails and more than 15,500 survey responses, which were very instructive and instrumental in building our plan.”

According to the Back-to-School Action Plan approved by the Canyons Board of Education, this is how the Canyons community will think safe as we start a school year unlike any other: 

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The Canyons Board of Education and Administration, in coordination with state and local government and health officials, will lead the District’s effort to safely open and operate schools in fall 2020. This follows a state requirement for all Utah schools to offer some kind of in-person learning in the fall.  

Families will be able to choose to enroll their children in either online or in-person classes during Online Registration. Students will be asked to commit to their choice of learning format for at least one grading period. Ninth- through 12th grade students who enroll in the online program can earn core and limited elective credits through already-established CSD online offerings. Elementary and middle school students who enroll in online core classes will be assigned a CSD teacher.  As an alternative to homeschooling, the District also will support parent-guided, at-home instruction with CSD curriculum and access to services. Students in need at all levels who participate in online learning will be provided a device and connectivity to participate fully in remote learning, and they will be considered a part of a CSD neighborhood school through which they can obtain non-academic services and participate in extracurriculars. Accommodations for students receiving Special Education or English Language Learning services will be worked out with individual families.

Schools will be cleaned throughout the day and into the evening hours. Canyons District, which will follow the governor’s order to require the use of face coverings, will supply hand sanitizers, soap, and other Personal Protection Equipment, such as Plexiglas in high-traffic areas and face shields and coverings. Physical distancing will be implemented when feasible, visitors to buildings will be limited and will undergo temperature checks, those displaying symptoms will be asked not to enter CSD buildings, and students will be trained on proper hygiene. Also, a protocol has been established for students and employees to follow if they qualify as high-risk, if they’ve tested positive, or have been in contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. Additional school nurses will be provided to CSD facilities for medical advice and support. All current 504 and student health care plans are being reviewed so CSD staff can work with each family and school and ensure accommodations are in place for students with health concerns. Extra cleaning and physical distancing precautions will be put into place in higher-risk courses, such as choir or physical education, which involves high respiratory output. CSD also will proactively provide mental health services and counseling.

Teachers and staff will be offered evidence-based professional development to aid in possible transitions between in-person and online instruction. The District’s Continuity of Education Plans that were implemented in spring 2020 have been reviewed and updated. Canyons District’s Departments of Instructional Supports, School Performance and Responsive Services also will provide training on the Back-to-School Action Plan with the aim of mitigating risk in the classroom. Administrators will educate staff members on the action plan, and all employees will receive additional COVID-19-related information during the annual Critical Policy Training. The District and school administration will problem-solve unique situations as they arise. 

Canyons District is committed to providing clean and safe learning and work environments for students and employees. Students will be assigned seats to support any contact tracing; space between desks and tables will be maximized; auditoriums, gyms and outdoor learning spaces will be utilized as learning areas; and students will be seated facing forward. Schools will monitor and minimize congregations of students and stagger or limit transitions between classes to minimize interactions with multiple groups. “Quarantine rooms” will be identified and will be the place where ill students are temporarily isolated until parents can pick them up. Also, to the extent possible, students will remain with the same teachers and staff throughout the day, and recess times may be staggered. In addition, schools will establish drop-off and pick-up and entry/exit flow paths to minimize congestion. Restrooms will be stocked with adequate soap and paper products. Water fountains will be sanitized twice a day and disinfected after school and business hours, and hand sanitizer dispensers will be placed at each building’s main entrance, main office, and cafeteria. In cafeterias, tables will be cleaned after each use, and custodians will use electrostatic sprayers with hospital-grade disinfectant on cafeteria tables after school each day. Each school and building also will be properly ventilated. On buses, drivers and children will wear face coverings.  Students will sit in assigned seats, physical distancing will be put into place where feasible, and the vehicles will be thoroughly cleaned after each route. 

The Canyons community will be updated regularly on various platforms regarding the status and operations of District schools. CSD schools will work with families individually on attendance. Newsletters, flyers and other materials outlining CSD’s Back-to-School Action Plan will be sent to parents and posted on CSD websites. Posters encouraging face coverings and personal hygiene will be created and posted in high-traffic areas in all CSD facilities. Canyons also will turn to live-streams and podcasting to safely disseminate additional information and broadcast events.