Park City High School reopens
May 6, 2009
On Tuesday, Park City School District Superintendent Ray Timothy announced that class will be back in session today (Weds. May 6)at Park City High School because no probable cases of the swine flu had been discovered in any of its students.
"This is a very critical time for students and they need to be in school," Park City High School Principal Hilary Hays said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
With 11 probable cases and one confirmed case of the swine flu in the Park City area, however, the Summit County Health Department recommends elementary and middle schools in the Park City School District stay closed through May 6.
The swine flu scare forced the closure of eight Park City School District campuses April 30. That meant classes and all school-related activities would have been canceled through May 10.
"I appreciate the health department looking at all of the data, and the fact that we have had this incubation period," Timothy said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
The schools were closed to disrupt transmission of the H1N1 virus from student to student, he explained.
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"With your students out of school, you don’t have people congregating in large numbers," Timothy said. "The virus pretty much runs the course during the time the schools are shut down."
Custodians on Tuesday wore masks and gloves while scrubbing surfaces in schools that students or teachers might have touched or breathed on last week.
"They are wiping down, disinfecting and sanitizing any keyboard, doorknob, handles, chair rails, telephones, all those kinds of things," Timothy said.
Meanwhile, some students will face difficult Advanced Placement testing when they return from the six-day break the swine flu scare caused.
"They are so distracted right now," Hays said. "I want to get them back as soon as I can because I feel like every day we’re out, it’s just another day where they feel like they are in vacation mode, and they do not need to be in vacation mode right now."
Paula Baltzan, who teaches AP world history at the high school, used Skype, an online calling service, to help students study while classes were canceled.
"We have our test on May 14 and the review for the test is key to the test," Baltzan said Tuesday. "I think a lot of students will be happy to be back. It’s been very hard on them. They don’t want to get behind."
Students who pass AP tests receive college credit, Timothy explained.
"If they don’t pass the exam, then they don’t get the college credit," Timothy said. "The teachers who are teaching those AP classes tried to find any way they could to dialog with those students."
The student in the Park City area who contracted the swine flu had recently returned from a spring break trip in Mexico where the illness has killed several people.
"We know the other students didn’t go to Mexico and they caught it from somewhere here," Timothy said.
The superintendent expects this year’s graduation ceremony to proceed June 12 as planned.
Utah Board of Education officials will likely decide if students must make up the missed days, Timothy said.
"We will have completed all of the state testing requirements and all of the AP testing [by June 12.] What advantage are we going to see by having to reschedule and extend that?" he said. "Everything that we have wanted to accomplish by June 12, we will have accomplished."
Other schools that remain closed in the district could reopen Thursday, he said.
"If we continue to see groups congregate in the community and we continue to get increased numbers of probable and confirmed cases, it may increase the time that we have to keep our schools closed," Timothy said.