OGDEN – At an Ogden School District School Board meeting on Thursday evening, Superintendent Rich Nye briefed the board on the district’s updated COVID-19 numbers, which – according to the official tally – have been somewhat weak so far this year.
Currently, the district has eight active cases of the virus and has seen a total of 26 since starting school on August 26. The Box Elder School District is similar in size to Ogden and had 10 active cases on Monday.
While the small numbers are cause for celebration, they also highlight a district concern at the start of the school year: How likely are students with symptoms of COVID-19 to be tested for the virus?
“We might have people showing symptoms and not being tested,” district spokesman Jer Bates said. The main reasons for this, Bates argued, are lack of money and mistrust of the government.
The Ogden School District is one of the poorest districts in the state, with 18 of its 19 schools eligible for federal Title I funding based primarily on the concentration of students living below the census poverty line American.
While money is an issue for many families living in the Ogden School District, that doesn’t stop parents from getting their children tested. If a family is insured, all plans should cover COVID-19 testing. And if they aren’t, the cost to the Utahns will be covered by Medicaid as a provision of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
However, uninsured people must also meet citizenship requirements to be eligible for test coverage.
According to a report released this year by The Center for Migration StudiesUtah’s estimated undocumented immigrant population rose from 91,000 in 2010 to 92,000 in 2018. The majority of those immigrants, according to the study, are from Latin America.
Although the Ogden School District is legally prohibited from tracking the number of undocumented families in the district, they know they are there, Bates said. Enrollment figures from the Utah State Board of Education show that 50.8% of students in the Ogden School District are Hispanic.
Bates said some undocumented families might also be concerned about potential interactions with the government as a result of seeking a test.
“It has been brought to my attention by people outside of our school district that conceptually this is a concern,” Bates said.
In response, one of the district’s main goals has been education around the virus. In addition to emails sent to parents of students, as part of its Keeping Ogden Healthy plan, the Ogden School District is working to “identify students and families who need extra support and establish frequent contact, ”according to its website.
He hopes that if parents are aware of the symptoms of COVID-19 and keep sick children at home, his numbers will remain low.
“It is imperative to work with our communities and with our families – if a child is showing symptoms, please, please, please don’t send them to school,” Nye said.
Information on the district plan to combat the spread of the virus is on her website – in English and Spanish.