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The City Journals

During school dismissal, GSD facilitates learning, offers meals except on earthquake day

Mar 26, 2020 10:08AM ● By Heather Lawrence

Olympus senior, and Sterling Scholar winner, Zoe Schramm practices her clarinet at home since school is dismissed. (Photo courtesy Zoe Schramm)

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

On March 13, under direction from Gov. Gary Herbert, Granite School District dismissed students from daily school attendance at least through March 27. A statement released by GSD clarified that this is not a closure from a learning standpoint, but a preventive measure to stop the spread of disease.

“Students will not report to school, but facilities will remain open and staff will report to work as normal, using appropriate social distancing. School will continue on a digital and distance platform,” GSD’s statement said. The full text is available at www.graniteschools.org.

GSD teachers worked out distance lesson plans, and schools made Chromebooks available for checkout so students could work on assignments at home. 

On March 23, state officials announced schools would remain closed until May 1.

Zhu Bao teaches Chinese at Cottonwood High in the dual immersion program. Bao is from China. He said he tried not to talk about the coronavirus too much early on “in order to avoid panic in school, though some students asked me how to say ‘coronavirus’ in Chinese.”

Bao has focused on Chinese culture in the past. During the Lunar New Year in January, he had his students practice calligraphy. During the March dismissal, he wrote an email to his students. “I encouraged them to use this time to work on their Chinese at home, and recommended a few ways to practice. This was along with their assignments on AP Central and Canvas.” 

GSD takes its social role seriously. They were the only district not to close school for a snow day on Feb. 3, in part due to the many students who count on meals at school. GSD made sure meals would be available during the dismissal.

“Grab-and-go lunches will be provided to all students … students will not be able to eat their lunches on campus. Lunch meals will be available at all school locations except for Hunter High School. Breakfast … will be available at participating locations,” said GSD Publications Specialist Steven Powell in a media release.

But school administrators were shocked on March 18 when another disruption came in the form of a 5.7 magnitude earthquake in Magna. Superintendent Martin Bates posted on the website that meals would cease for the day because emergency management officials asked everyone to stay home and shelter in place. No injuries were immediately reported.

School meals were not planned for March 19–22 during the planned spring break, but Communications Director Ben Horsley said they would provide a meal on March 19. Anyone with questions about the nutrition program can contact Dana Adams at 385-646-4321 or [email protected].

No meals will be provided at Hunter High. The campus was completely closed on March 14 when “Salt Lake County Health Department identified potential exposure of COVID-19 at Hunter High School,” per the GSD website. It underwent deep cleaning.

Though missing school might not be seen as a hardship, spring is full of school activities that many students and teachers look forward to. All school-sponsored activities, practices, plays, concerts and athletics were canceled.

Diane Taylor teaches band and orchestra at Churchill Jr. High. “For my classes, students will do theory, listen to assignments and record themselves playing their instruments for assignments. Our junior high festivals will be postponed. We’ll send the recordings off to the adjudicators. Hopefully, nothing will be permanently canceled, just postponed,” Taylor said.

For high school seniors, it’s more of a disappointment. Bailey Dunn is a senior at Olympus High. Dunn was the dance finalist for the Sterling Scholar competition, which canceled its awards night on March 19.

Dunn took a medical assisting class at school with a rigorous curriculum, meant to prepare students for a national certification test. “But because we’re students, we’re prohibited from attending our clinics, and many of us will no longer be able to take the test,” Dunn said.

“It’s sad that I cannot spend my last months in high school with my best friends. But also everything I have worked so hard for this year is canceled, starting with the Sterling Scholar announcement ceremony. If the virus continues at this rate, I will not be able to dance in my last dance company concert,” Dunn said.

Olympus High’s music Sterling Scholar finalist Zoe Schramm had similar feelings. “It is disappointing as a senior to … have so much uncertainty about how the year will conclude. My peers and I are hopeful that prom and graduation will not be canceled,” Schramm said.

“I’m trying to make good use of my time by studying for my AP tests and helping out wherever I can. I recognize that these worries are minor in comparison to the concerns of those around the world. ... This will definitely make a memorable senior year!” Schramm said.