SALT LAKE CITY — In a special meeting Thursday afternoon, the Utah State Board of Education unanimously passed a motion to waive requirements and extend deadlines affecting both students and educators in light of the national and state declarations of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a board meeting Thursday, state superintendent Sydnee Dickson said that school districts across the state are in the immediate and urgent phase, the first phase in the response to the statewide soft closures.
She said the board is in a continuous process of discussing all aspects of the current circumstance and its rippling effects such as the loss of rituals, loss of graduation and what that will look like, attendance and how to track it, pass/fail grades, the suspension of assessments and digital proctoring.
Dickson also said they have been looking forward to trying to figure out what will have changed and how to recover when students return to school.
“There are a lot of unknowns, but we can start to plan along the way,” she said.
Dickson said the board still believes in local control, so they are working on guidance that can be helpful. In order to do this, a survey was sent out to gather data in order to move forward with recommendations.
For the most part, Dickson said that things are going well with the transition and implementation of distance learning.
She added that one of the waivers given to the state board by the federal government gives $29 million dollars.
Higher education is set to get a larger portion of money because they are looking at offering some loan forgiveness, she said. Nothing is finalized yet, but she said more details are to come.
Following Dickson’s update, the motion to waive board rules was discussed and board members unanimously voted yes.
In addition to other waivers, this motion:
- Grants a statewide waiver for employee evaluation requirements, including the requirement for an educator or administrator to have a certain number of observations or a summative rating for the 2019-20 school year.
- Grants teacher candidates a waiver of the minimum clock hours requirements.
- Grants educational leadership candidates expecting to complete educational leadership requirements, on or before June 30, a waiver of minimum clock hour requirements.
- Grants to school psychologists, social workers, counselors, audiologists, speech-language pathologists and speech language technicians candidates a waiver of the minimum clock hour requirements.
- Extends the deadline from June 30 to Oct. 31 for educators to renew their licenses.
Locally, both Dixie State University and Southern Utah University have also made important changes.
Updated on their website Wednesday, Dixie State students now have the choice to convert their letter grades to a pass/no credit grade for the spring semester. In addition, they have extended the final withdrawal date for one or all classes to April 22.
Southern Utah University also announced Thursday at 1 p.m. that they are allowing students the choice of a letter grade or a pass/no credit grade for the spring semester. Commencement has also been tentatively rescheduled for Aug. 8.
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