Mountain Crest

Mountain Crest High School was placed in a Test to Stay protocol after they had over 30 cases of COVID-19 in the past two weeks.

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Mountain Crest will be the first local school to go through Utah’s “test-to-stay” protocol this fall after the state reported Monday that more than 30 students have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past two weeks.

Under test-to-stay, students need a negative COVID-19 test to continue to attend in-person classes or school events.

“We realize this isn’t what anyone had hoped for, but we believe that following the state protocol will help to slow the spread of COVID in our school community and help keep students in school in the long run,” said Jenda Nye, Cache County School District public information specialist.

Passing the 30-student threshold means that all Mountain Crest High School students will be offered free testing at the school on Wednesday, Sept. 22, extending into the next day if needed.

Students who test negative may continue to attend in-person classes, but students who test positive will be required to isolate at home for a time, even if they’ve already gotten over COVID symptoms.

“Students who did not participate (in testing) should quarantine at home for 10 days,” UDoH states. “They may return to in-person learning after 10 days.”

That 10-day outbreak period will begin Wednesday and extend through Friday, Oct. 1, according to an email sent to Mountain Crest patrons. The outbreak period may be extended, however, if the school community doesn’t see a significant drop in cases, Nye said.

Utah Senate Bill 107, which established the test-to-stay protocol this year, states that schools must provide online instruction over the outbreak period for students who are opted-out of testing.

“We know this is a heavy lift for teachers and support staff,” states an email from Cache Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Tim Smith to Mountain Crest staff, which was provided anonymously to The Herald Journal. “Currently, we are unable to provide the same 45 minutes at the end of the day (for teachers to prep online class materials) for a single school due to busing constraints but are searching for some ways to recognize your efforts.”

Mountain Crest has 31 active student cases of COVID-19 and 34 active cases among students, faculty and staff, according to data from the Utah Department of Health released Monday. The school’s current enrollment of just less than 1,500 students means its test-to-stay threshold is 30 students. For schools with 1,500 students or more, the threshold is 2%.

Ridgeline had the second-highest number of active student cases in the district in Monday’s report, with 13. That was followed by Providence Elementary with 12 and Spring Creek Middle School with 10.

Mountain Crest has had 40 total active cases among students, faculty and staff during the school year so far, followed by Sky View High School with 38. Though Sky View had nearly as many active cases as Mountain Crest during the school year, most of those have recovered, leaving only eight active cases at the school, according to UDoH.

The test-to-stay procedure Mountain Crest now faces is unrelated to a health order issued by BRHD last week, Nye said. The high school’s testing event is mandated statewide by SB 107, while last week’s health order instituted a by-classroom approach to test-to-stay and only applies to elementary schools in Cache, Box Elder and Rich counties. While the order is in effect, classrooms with three or more confirmed cases among students, faculty or volunteers in a 7-day period will offer testing for each student.

According to BRHD’s health order, SB 107’s test-to-stay protocol “disadvantages our vaccine-ineligible population in elementary schools, by requiring a much higher transmission of COVID-19 (2-5 times higher) among the population before requiring any action to be taken compared to larger secondary schools with enrollment greater than 1,500 students.”

Nye said she isn’t aware of any classrooms in the Cache County School District that have gone through that process so far.

Mountain Crest parents may register for the school’s test-to-stay event at https://brhd.jotform.com/212598671652970.

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