Due to an increase of 19 confirmed COVID-19 cases within four days, Logan High School will move to a remote learning platform as was announced by the Logan City School District on Thursday.
“We’ve had a rough few days,” said Shana Longhurst, the district’s communication specialist.
When school started on Monday, there were zero cases. By the end of the day, five had been confirmed. By the time the numbers were released on Thursday, roughly 200 students were in quarantine and confirmed cases had tripled.
According to a parent email sent Thursday, Superintendent Frank Schofield said the decision was made based on the increase “and the likelihood that the number of positive cases will rise over the weekend.” Classes will continue online until Dec. 18, when the winter break begins, and in-person classes are expected to resume on Jan. 4, as previously planned.
In his weekly COVID-19 update, Gov. Gary Herbert announced K-12 teachers and staff have been added to the list to receive vaccines from the first shipment, ordered on Dec. 4 and expected to be administered by the first of January.
A concerning increase
“We had enough cases come in that we were not comfortable with, and more school spread than we were comfortable with,” Longhurst said. “It’s very widespread.”
Some cases were tied to the recent production of “Anastasia,” others were tied to athletics or different activities, and still others were tied to household spread.
“We were encouraged with the recent drop in the numbers,” Longhurst said, “but as we viewed the increase (Thursday), we were concerned with the numbers locally and statewide.”
There were 2,574 new cases confirmed in Utah on Thursday, and it marked the third day in a row where there were more than 20 deaths statewide due to the virus, which brought the total amount of COVID-19 deaths in Utah to 1,019.
New daily cases in the Bear River Health District breached 200 for the first time in a week on Thursday when 217 tests came back positive — 154 of them in Cache County. On Friday, the number of new cases dropped to 112 — 69 were Cache County residents. There have been 38 deaths due to the virus in the district — 17 in Cache, and 21 in Box Elder, with zero in Rich County.
And if the hospital and ICU counts remain high, Dr. Ed Redd warned deaths will increase rapidly.
“I think that each of us as individuals need to do the best we can with the information we have right now, to try and reduce the spread of this disease,” Redd said, “so the health care system can continue to help people who are sick with it, and help so the health care system doesn’t get totally overloaded.”
Wearing masks and moving schools online is one way that has been proven to reduce the spread, according to Tim Smith with the Cache County School District.
“It’s hard to say it’s causal and not correlational, but we see less spread in the schools than we do in the community when (cases spike),” Smith said. “We’re able to keep our numbers lower than the spikes in the community.”
Slowing the spread
Logan High is the second school in the valley to move online during the school year. Ridgeline High School in CCSD was the first school to transition online after surpassing the recommended threshold of 15 students and more than 300 in quarantine.
“We were putting on kids faster than we were taking them off, so the best, most prudent action was to close the school to stop the spread, which is what we’ve seen,” Smith said. “They had 30-something cases after the day we closed, in the first seven or eight days, so if we hadn’t (moved online), we were going to have an even greater spread on our hands.”
Ridgeline resumed in-person classes on Monday, and as of Thursday only had four cases. While Green Canyon High School’s numbers have been hovering around the 15-case benchmark, Smith said more students are returning from quarantine than are being added on, so it’s expected to continue in-person until the break.
“We’re looking good in Cache right now. It’s encouraging, but these things can change day-to-day,” Smith said. “We’ll have a full two weeks of kids not being in school. We’re hoping cases go back down in every school by the time we start back up in January so we’ll have a clean slate.”
Green Canyon currently has the next-highest number of cases at about 14. Two new cases were identified during Thursday’s athletic testing, but Smith said the trend has been four students coming back from quarantine each day, so that number is expected to drop over the weekend.
The third-highest number of cases are currently at Mountain Crest High School with nine active cases as of Thursday — down five from Friday, where they were bumping the 15-case mark.
Providence Elementary had the third-highest number of cases on Wednesday — also nine — after a group of students attended a party outside of school hours, but seven of them returned from quarantine on Thursday.