BOX ELDER COUNTY – By Cari Doutre, Headliner Publisher – September 16, 2021
The Bear River Health Department has issued a public health order regarding a COVID-19 testing protocol for elementary school students (kindergarten-6th grade) within Box Elder School District effective September 20, 2021, at 7 a.m.
The intent of Public Health Order No. 2021-01, as stated by the Bear River Health Department on September 16, 2021, may institute a “COVID-19 screening test requirement for students, faculty and volunteers within an elementary school classroom within the Bear River Health District to continue in-person education or work at the school.”
The “classroom test-to-stay program” within Public Health Order No. 2021-01 states that:
· A Standing Classroom Threshold means 3 or more confirmed COVID-19 cases in students, faculty and volunteers, within an elementary school classroom setting within a 7-day period
· A Local Education Agency (such as Box Elder School District) or local health department (Bear River Health Department) may not test a student for COVID-19 under the age of 18 without the consent of the student’s parent or legal guardian
· An LEA may seek advance consent from a student’s parent’s parents or guardian for future COVID-19 testing
· Testing under a classroom test-to-stay program will be offered at no cost to the affected students, faculty or volunteers
· Unless otherwise arranged for by the LEA, the students’ parents or guardians, school faculty and school volunteers will be responsible for arranging COVID-19 testing at existing K-12 COVID-19 testing sites
· Individuals unable to produce a negative test will be excluded from attending school in-person for a period of 10 days
See Public Health Order No. 2021-01 in full on the links below.
Under Utah Senate Bill 107, schools in Utah are required implement a ‘test to stay’ protocol when they meet the following threshold:
· A school with more than 1,500 students have 2% of their student population test positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period
· For a school with less than 1,500 students has 30 students test positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period
“The bill inadvertently disadvantages our vaccine-ineligible population of elementary schools by requiring a much higher transmission of COVID-19 (2-5 times higher) among the population before requiring any action to be taken compared to larger secondary schools with enrollment greater than 1,500 students,” as stated by the Bear River Health Department on September 16, 2021.
According to that statement, “Schools in the Bear River Health District have been open anywhere from 2 weeks to 1 month, and all Local Education Agencies are seeing an increased incidence of COVID-19 compared to this time last year (2020) at this same time. The weekly incidence of COVID-19 has increased by 159% in individuals 0-9 years of age in the past 3 weeks.”
Children under 12 years of age are not eligible to receive the approved COVID-19 vaccine or any of the emergency use vaccine. There is currently no approved COVID-19 vaccine available to children under the age of 12.
The Bear River Health Department released the following statistics on September 16, 2021:
· In Box Elder County, over 14-day period ending September 9, 2021, there were 519 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 with a 14.13% seven (7) day rolling average % positivity.
· Within the Bear River Health District (Cache, Rich and Box Elder counties) there are 37,527 children under the age of 12
· Children under the age of 12 account for 25% of the Bear River Health District’s population
· Over the past 3 weeks, the weekly incidence of COVID-19 in individuals 9 years of age and younger has increased 159%
· In the Bear River Health District, of youth 12-17 years of age, 35.4% are fully vaccinated and 47.3% have received at least one dose
· Of the population in Bear River Health District that are eligible to receive the vaccine, 55% are fully vaccinated
· Statewide, as of September 15, 2021, Utah hospitals have a 95.5% total intensive care unit (ICU) utilization rate
· Of those ICU utilization rates, 43.5% are COVID-19 patients