A mask mandate is now in effect for 2 elementary schools in Park City
Parley’s Park and Trailside exceed COVID-19 case count threshold
For The Park Record
The Summit County Health Department has informed officials at Parley’s Park and Trailside elementary schools that students and staff members are required to wear masks through at least Nov. 29.
The public health order was implemented because both schools were above a threshold for COVID-19 cases over the weekend. Under the order, masks are mandated in elementary, middle and junior high schools if more than 2% of a school’s population — including both students and staff members — is diagnosed with COVID-19 over a two-week span.
The mandate was triggered at Trailside because the school had 12 COVID cases affecting 2.48% of its population.
Parley’s Park had 13 cases, which equaled 2.18% of its population. A mask mandate has been in effect at the school since Nov. 1, after the threshold was first surpassed.
At the end of this two-week span, health officials will reevaluate the number of cases at each school to determine if the temporary mask mandates can be lifted.
For now, students in those schools must wear a face mask or face shield; access lessons through the school’s online system; or provide mask exemption paperwork completed by a qualified medical professional.
The Summit County public health order requiring masks under certain conditions, which was issued at the start of the school year, is designed to stop a COVID outbreak before it spreads. Parley’s Park and Trailside are the only schools where the mandate has been implemented.
Earlier this month, some concerns were raised in the community that the Park City School District was not strictly enforcing the mandate at Parley’s Park. In a Nov. 7 letter to parents, Superintendent Jill Gildea said all students and staff are required to wear a mask.
“Just like we did last year when school mask mandates were in effect, Parley’s Park Elementary School will remind its students and staff to put on and wear their required face mask appropriately if they are found to not be wearing it,” the letter said. “If additional reminders are required, or if a student is repeatedly not complying or adhering to teacher direction, there may be escalating consequences including school discipline.”
In addition, health officials conducted an on-site inspection on Nov. 8 at the school. The next day, the Health Department issued a written statement saying, “At the time of the inspection, school staff, administration and students were found to be in compliance with all required face-covering and sanitization protocols outlined in Public Health Order 2021-01.”
The Park City Education Association and the School District also issued a statement and said PCEA leaders, district administrators and school board members had met to discuss the situation.
“At any time the mask mandate needs to be implemented in the future, there is a clear plan in place and the expectation is that all students and staff will comply with the order,” the statement said.
The district said staff members and students have been complying with the mask mandates by wearing their face coverings over their nose and mouth.
In a letter to the community posted online late Monday, members of the Park City Board of Education said the Summit County Health Department conducted four site visits at Parley’s Park beginning Nov. 8 and each walk-through has shown the school has been in compliance with the mask mandate.
“We are actively preparing each of our school sites that fall under the Public Health Order to ensure compliance if a mandate is to be triggered,” the letter says. “Those school sites include McPolin, Jeremy Ranch Elementary, Ecker Hill Middle School and Treasure Mountain Junior High School.”
Additional inspections will be conducted at the discretion of the Health Department, according to the letter.
Summit County health officials have been encouraging people to mitigate the spread of COVID by getting the vaccine against the virus. Children who are 5- to 11-years-old now are eligible to get the shot.
The current transmission rate in Summit County was listed as high on Monday on the Health Department’s COVID-19 dashboard. There have been 7,178 confirmed COVID cases in the county and 19 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Melissa Ray knows what it’s like to not do extraordinarily well in public elementary school. She had a hard time performing well as a student under the typical structure, lessons and other foundational aspects of public education.
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