Tooele High School appears to be the first high school in the state to reach the number of students with COVID-19 positive cases to be required to implement Test to Stay under a law passed by the state Legislature in March 2021.
With 40 students testing positive for COVID-19 at Tooele High School as of 12:40 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 14, the school is over the 35 student trigger — 2% of the student population — for the Legislative “Test to Stay” protocol, pursuant to 2021 Senate Bill 107.
As a result, students will be tested for COVID-19 during a testing event that started today at the school.
The Utah State Department of Health has a mobile COVID-19 testing team that provided equipment and personnel to conduct the tests.
Personnel from Tooele County Department of Health and Tooele County School District employees were on hand helping at the school.
The group expects to be able to test 300 students per hour, allowing the entire student body to be tested by 2 p.m., according to Mat Jackson with the Tooele County School District.
Students were being called out of class by alphabetical order, similar to procedures used for things like school photos.
After being tested the students wait in the auditorium for results. Those with negative results will return to class. The parents of students that test positive will be notified to pick their students up at the school.
SB 107 requires that once the threshold number of running 14-day positive COVID-19 cases among students at a school is reached all students, regardless of vaccination status, need to be tested for COVID-19.
Students that test positive will need to isolate at home for 10 calendar days before returning to in-person classes. If a student tests positive, they will also not be able to participate in any school activities or sports until their isolation period is over.
Parent permission is needed to test students under the age of 18. Students choosing to opt out of being tested will also need to isolate at home for 10 calendar days before they can return to school.
Parents/guardians can also choose to have their student get a COVID-19 test done at a COVID-19 Testing Station, through their healthcare provider or a health department and provide their results to the school.
State Health Department Test to Stay guidelines strongly recommend masks to be worn at a school for two weeks after a Test to Stay event.
SB 107 differs from the protocol for the 2020-2021 school year when once a certain number of positive cases were reached the entire school shutdown in-person learning and students went home for two weeks of online instruction.
The threshold number of positive student COVID-19 cases that triggers Test to Stay is part of SB 107. For schools with less than 1,500 students the threshold number is set at 30. For schools with 1,500 or more students the threshold number is 2% of the students.
Only two schools in Tooele County have a student population of 1,500 or more — Stansbury High School at 2,102 and Tooele High School at 1,777.
Faculty and staff at schools are not required by SB 107 to be tested, but the Tooele County School District held an optional testing for faculty and staff at Tooele High school on Wednesday.
SB 107 was passed by the state Legislature in March 2021. It received a 23-5 vote in the Senate and a 53-17 vote in the House on final passage. All legislators representing Tooele County voted for final passage of SB 107.
As of Sept. 15, 41.8% of Tooele County’s youth ages 12-17 were fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
“Most of us are used to it by now,” said Breanna Beer, THS student body president. “We’re not happy with COVID, but I’ve only heard a few complaints about testing.”