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Utah Military Academy campus moves to online learning after 9 COVID-19 cases among adults

Virus strikes academy’s Camp Williams school, but Hill Field campus unaffected, superintendent says

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Richard, right, receives a COVID-19 test from Shane Miller of the Air Force Nation Guard at Pleasant Grove Recreation Center on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. On Thursday, Pleasant Grove High School will pivot from full-time in-person learning to a modified schedule due to an uptick of COVID-19 cases.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Military Academy has shifted to online learning after nine adults on its Camp Williams campus tested positive for COVID-19.

Thus far, there have been no cases among cadets nor has its Hill Field campus been affected, Superintendent and Chief Academic Affairs Officer Darren Beck said on Wednesday.

Beck said the public charter school campus, which has an enrollment of about 435 students in grades 7-12, will offer online learning until at least Sept. 18, with a projected return to campus on Sept. 21.

Most of the cases were among support staff, he said. A few cases surfaced late last week but over the weekend, there were more.

“Monday morning we had nine and felt like we should probably pump the brakes a little on this because we are a school that came back pretty full strength. Parents wanted it. The majority of the teachers wanted that. Now we kind of want to wait it out. We’re still waiting for some results from some other folks,” Beck said.

In a letter to the school community, Beck wrote that the decision to pivot to remote learning came “after hours of discussion and debate to do the most honorable thing for all of you and our cadets.”

“Our present reality is that many of the adults teaching and working with our cadets are now having their health and well-being compromised, especially as they take on more demands caused by the current caseload we are seeing,” the letter read. “We know that a fully online effort is not ideal, but we also know that potentially more adults and then cadets may contract this virus, which will cause worse issues if we fail to act.”

The academy is the second public charter school to shift to online learning this week due to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases.

On-campus learning was halted at American Preparatory Academy’s Draper 1location on Tuesday after 15 positive cases of COVID-19 were reported at the school.

The move came after Pleasant Grove High School in Alpine School District modified its schedule this week also because of multiple coronavirus cases.

Jackson Griesmyer, 13, gets a COVID-19 test at Pleasant Grove Recreation Center on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. On Thursday, Pleasant Grove High School will pivot from full-time in-person learning to a modified schedule due to an uptick of COVID-19 cases.

Jackson Griesmyer, 13, gets a COVID-19 test at Pleasant Grove Recreation Center on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. On Thursday, Pleasant Grove High School will pivot from full-time in-person learning to a modified schedule due to an uptick of COVID-19 cases.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News