Lehi City suspends programs, Utah County Health Department 

readies for cases

The Alpine School District has moved classes online for at least two weeks under the direction of the state superintendent as concerns about coronavirus continue.

“This is a preventative measure,” said David Stephenson, a spokesman for the Alpine School District. 

The announcement comes as churches announce temporary closures, hospitals enact stricter visiting policies, and government agencies encourage Utahns to practice social distancing to help prevent COVID-19 from spreading further.

The “soft closure” of schools means that classes will continue online and lunch services will be provided in a grab-and-go format at schools. Teachers have undergone training on how to transition to online learning. 

The district utilized a hybrid education model that combined on-site learning labs and online coursework in the fall after the opening of Lake Mountain Middle School in Saratoga Springs was delayed due to the building not being completed in time. That experience, Stephenson said, became a pilot for how the district is handling at-home learning. 

ASD schools have implemented a “grab-and-go” system to continue providing students on free or reduced meals access to food. Breakfast will be distributed from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to noon at all schools. The district can accommodate students who need to pick up both meals during breakfast time.

Stephenson urged parents to not panic and to follow ASD’s social media and communications channels to be aware of new information as it is released.   

There were two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Utah County as of the afternoon of March 17, according to the Utah County Health Department. One of the cases was identified last week and is a non-Utah resident, and the other is a Utah County resident who the department believes was infected from transmission among the community.

The most recent Utah County diagnosis is a male over the age of 18, according to the department. He has not been hospitalized. The Utah County Health Department will not release further information about the individual due to medical privacy laws.

The patient attended a day of work while displaying symptoms, according to the department. It has notified the individuals and locations where there could have been exposure. Those who have been potentially exposed have been instructed to quarantine themselves at home and will be monitored by state and local public health employees. 

In Lehi, the city announced that all city programs — including the library, the literacy center, the senior center, the Legacy Center, youth community classes, sports programs, and dance programs — will be closed starting March 12 for at least the next two weeks. 

“Our hope is that we are being overly cautious, but we are asking everyone to cooperate in taking preventative measures in fighting the virus,” the city posted on Facebook. 

The city council meeting for March 17 has been postponed until March 31. The city is encouraging the public to submit comments via email instead of attending the meeting.  Emails will be read during the meeting and taken into consideration, according to the city.

Both Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University have moved classes online and canceled on-campus activities. BYU has also encouraged its students to return to their permanent homes for the rest of the semester.

The Utah County Health Department has continued to monitor the situation and has opened an information line, (801) 851-HELP, to answer questions for those who think they might be at risk. 

The county is still monitoring and preparing for Utah County cases, according to Aislynn Tolman-Hill, a spokeswoman for the Utah County Health Department. The health department is also working with school districts to make sure that guidance is ready for the ever-evolving situation. 

“That seems to be changing on a daily and hourly basis,” Tolman-Hill said. 

Tolman-Hill said COVID-19 cases are coming near the end of cold and flu season and at the beginning of the seasonal allergy seasons, which all can lead to similar symptoms of coronavirus. 

“People are mostly concerned about themselves, and it’s something we need to be concerned about on a public and community level,” Tolman-Hill said. 

She urges people to wash their hands, use hand sanitizer if soap isn’t available and to stay home if they are feeling sick to prevent the spread of illnesses. She said the county has looked to China and Italy, where shutdowns and COVID-19 have become widespread. As more preventive closures go into effect, including the cancelation or postponement of performing arts events, Tolman-Hill recommends that people practice social distancing in order to prevent further spread.

“We have years and years of experience of what to do to limit the spread of these illnesses,” she said.

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