Murray School District will close ‘indefinitely’ in caution of coronavirus beginning March 13
Mar 12, 2020 03:46PM
● By Julie Slama
Murray School District hours no longer will be in effect as the district announced March 12 that it will close the district indefinitely in caution of coronavirus. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
Murray School District announced today it will close its schools and offices beginning March 13 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. No date has been set to resume normal school days.
The decision was made by the school district not by the Salt Lake County Health Department, although they, the Utah Department of Health, Murray Board of Education and the state office of education were consulted, said district spokesman Doug Perry.
“This morning, we became aware of potential direct contact exposure to COVID-19 within the District,” he said. “Those students and teachers surrounding this potential direct contact have not exhibited signs or symptoms associated with COVID-19. However, because we are concerned about the health and safety of our students and staff, we are exercising an abundance of caution.”
Parents were notified as well as a posting placed on the district website that said children could be checked out early today. Faculty and staff also were emailed about the decision and announcements were made in the schools.
Digital home learning, which was to have a trial run on the snow make-up day of March 27, is “pretty well prepared in anticipation,” Perry said, however, discussion is currently taking place as to when it will start as well as talks about providing meals to low-income students, concerns regarding hourly employees and other issues.
PTA region president and parent Jeannette Bowen said that her two high school students and junior high student already bring home Chromebooks for assignments, so her two elementary students will have access to home devices for digital learning.
“We’re fortunate that the school district has Chromebooks for the students to check out,” she said. “I understand that they don’t want to have people gather in big, public places which they may bring home the virus, but I hope people don’t panic or go crazy.”
She advises parents to check the district website, murrayschools.org, for updated information since the situation is fluid.
At Liberty Elementary, librarian Emilee Barnett was busy checking out as many books to students as possible in addition to getting Chromebooks ready to check out.
“I’m a little in shock, but we need to be cautious,” she said. “I love how the District takes care of the children.”
She had arranged for author Rebecca J. Carlson, who lives in Hawaii, to talk with fifth-graders on March 17 about her book “Barley and Rye: Adventure of Lost Castle,” which she realizes likely won’t happen.
The precaution also includes Murray District’s canceling of all extracurricular activities for today and in the future, including Utah High School Activities Association events, meaning Bowen’s high school son and 13 others on the tennis team won’t travel to St. George this weekend for a tournament.
It also cancels tonight’s Murray School District’s Pinnacles awards and the opening night of Riverview Junior High’s musical, in which Barnett’s son was to be a village dancer, which she is sad it won’t be happening. Her daughter also was in rehearsals for “Peter and the Starcatcher” at Murray High.
Murray High theatre director Will Saxton echoes her disappointment.
“I’m just disappointed for the kids,” he said. “Things happen and they’re the victims of what is happening. My kids here are pretty sad. Our region competition for individual events is tomorrow. They worked hard so it is very disappointing.”
Saxton has reached out to other theatre teachers in the region to see what can be done for region and state competitions, but no decisions have been made. He has made one decision regarding his own shows.
“If we come back before the end of the school year, we will perform ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’ and cancel ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’” he said. “As far as digital learning, I’m set and ready to go. I think we’re all in shock, but when I put myself in that position of someone in charge, who has to make a tough decision, it’s just better to be safe than sorry. I’d rather cancel school one million times than have something happen to one of my students.”