Letter: Alpine School District President Carlson addresses fall plans

Letter to the Editor

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Dear Editor,

The Alpine School District board of education recently approved a plan for operating our schools this coming school year. We hope the plan assures all families and employees that choices are available to them, providing for health and safety and quality education. This plan is focused on:

Safety for students and teachers 

Providing a quality educational experience 

Balancing social and emotional needs with the reduction of risks to Covid-19 exposure

Choices for families to determine what is best for their students

Flexibility for schools to adjust to changing conditions and accommodate the individual needs of students and employees

The plans have been adjusted numerous times in response to changing conditions and feedback from tens of thousands of families, teachers, and school staff and direction from the Utah County Health Department. As the school board member representing the Lehi and Skyridge areas, I feel a profound concern for all students, all school employees and for your families. I pray regularly for your health and safety, both physically and emotionally, during the pandemic. Now, more than ever, we are counting on efforts from every family and thousands of professionals across the district to bring about a successful year. I am looking forward to the day when COVID-19 is no longer a great concern and I hope that we can all look back at this school year and say “that was a lot better than I thought it would be.”

This past week, families have been asked to declare their choice of several options for their students such as: 

In-person learning at school 

Learn remotely online from ASD teachers 

Combination of in-person learning and online learning

Learning independently with online teacher support through ASD programs such as Alpine Online (K-8) and East Shore (9-12).

Declaration of this choice will be essential to provide information for each school preparing to serve each student’s individual needs. This will allow schools to make staffing assignments for online supports and also to adjust the number of desks in each classroom to accommodate student numbers and provide as much distance as possible.

The board has desired to provide as much flexibility as possible to each school so that principals and teachers can adjust to meet the individual circumstances of students and employees. To avoid overloading teachers, digital instruction materials are being prepared by elementary teacher specialists and content-specific teachers at the secondary level that can be used by all of our teachers to complement the educational experience for all.

Yes, we have “back-up” plans. The Utah County Health Department is monitoring health conditions in the county daily. ASD works with County Health in hiring school nurses who are assigned to each school. The school operation plan is re-evaluated each week and compared with health conditions at each school and in each community. School operation may be adjusted depending on local conditions. Adjustments may include “alternating day” with half of the students attending in person on a given day with the other half online, or in a worst-case scenario, all online. These adjustments may occur on an individual school basis, for several schools in a community, or for all schools in the district. These temporary adjustments may be short or long in duration. 

ASD will rely on the direction from the health professionals at the Utah County Health Department in making decisions regarding such adjustments.

The success of this school year will be greatly influenced by what happens in individual homes. We always rely on the strength of families first to have successful students, but this year, in particular, we are counting on you to monitor the health of all family members. Please do not send your children or come to the school if you are sick or if you have been exposed to COVID-19 within the last two weeks.

For more details on the Alpine “Return to Learn” plan and each option available, please refer to the ASD website at alpineschools.org

Scott Carlson

ASD Board President 

Lehi, Utah

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