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Staying the Course • Crossing the Finish Line of the COVID-19 School Year

The pandemic finish line is in sight, and — as with any marathon — we need to stay the course and keep up our stamina in order to safely put this test of endurance behind us.

With COVID-19 case counts falling and Utah’s vaccination rates picking up, what safety protocols remain in place in Canyons District schools? Are any changes to the weekly school schedule expected this year?

Canyons District will continue to follow all applicable laws and consult with local health guidelines in determining next steps as we head into the final leg of the 2020-2021 school year. For now, here are the latest COVID-19-related developments and updates:

Are face masks still required in schools, on buses?

Yes. Face masks will continue to be required in schools, on buses, and at the District Office after April 10, even for those who have received a vaccination for the novel coronavirus. A bill approved by Utah lawmakers during the 2021 legislative session ends the state’s mask mandate starting April 10. Schools, however, are exempted from the legislation. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox has said that, in line with the most recent Utah Department of Health order, “the mask mandate will continue after April 10 in schools and for large gatherings.” Canyons will continue to seek guidance from health authorities and update families and employees of any changes in our safety protocols.

How long will Virtual-Learning Fridays remain in place?

The blended-learning model that calls for four days of in-person learning, while reserving Fridays for independent study, will remain in place for the rest of the school year. The expectation is that next fall, schools will return to a five-day schedule. But to preserve planning and collaboration time for teachers this year, and predictability for staff, parents and students who have established childcare and work routines, the Canyons Board of Education on Tuesday, March 16 opted to stick with virtual Fridays through the end of the 2020-2021 school year. It’s a decision favored by the majority of teachers, parents, and students who voiced their opinions via email and through in-person public comments. The schedule has served as a “release-valve” for teachers who have been required to teach changing rosters of students across multiple learning environments (in-person, online and students in quarantine). Students say it’s also helped them cope with the stresses of the pandemic. Many are using Fridays to consult with faculty, receive tutoring, and meet with students in test-prep groups. To further support students with unfinished learning challenges, the District will offer summer learning opportunities. More details about the programs are forthcoming.

Next School Year. . . We have a new Principal and Assistant Principal!

Dear Midvalley Community:

We are very excited and honored to join the Midvalley community!  We have heard that Midvalley is one of the BEST schools in the district and has a spectacular staff.  Your reputation for academic excellence and love for Jr Huskies proceeds you.  We plan to attend PTA and School Community Council meetings in March.  We look forward to getting to know you all soon!

A little a bit about us:

Margaret Swanicke has worked in education for fifteen years.  She graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts.  After volunteering teaching art in an elementary 5th grade classroom, she decided to pursue becoming an elementary teacher.  She then went Seattle University to earn a Master in Teaching with an emphasis in Elementary Education.  Margaret taught 6th grade in Provo School District for one year.  Next, she worked for Murray School District as a 4th grade teacher at Horizon Elementary for five years.  She then worked at Murray School District Office as a Teacher Specialist for two years while she worked towards her Administrative Licensure and Masters in Education at the University of Utah.  From there, Margaret was appointed as Principal at Sunrise Elementary in Canyons School District where she is currently in her eighth year.  Margaret’s hobbies include spending time with her family, running, hiking, rock climbing, yoga, cooking, reading, skiing, and traveling.  The best part of being a principal is getting to spend time having fun learning with children and working hard every day to ensure they have the best possible educational experience.

Dan Ashbridge has worked in education for seventeen years.  He earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of Utah, Masters of Education from Southern Utah University, and his Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Utah.  Dan originally taught World Geography in Jordan School District before heading to Alaska where he worked with English Language Learners and Alaska Natives.  After four years, he returned to Utah and taught at Midvale Middle School where he taught 6th grade and mentored new teachers.  Dan then moved into an Achievement Coach position for three years at Midvale Middle and Mt. Jordan Middle. He then transitioned into a district position in Instructional Supports working with the ELA, intervention, and social studies teams. He is currently an Assistant Principal at Butler Middle School.  Dan’s drivers in education are relationships, equity, and engagement striving to give students every possibility of being successful. When not working, you will find him camping, boating, skiing, going to concerts, and spending quality time with his family.

Go Jr Huskies!


Principal Swanicke and Principal Ashbridge

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