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AM News Brief: Parole Officer Training, State Job Resources & Some Parents Call For Return To Class

Photo of classroom.
iStock.com / Ridofranz
A group of parents in the Salt Lake City School District handed out 5,000 masks at schools Wednesday, with the hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19 and getting their kids back in the classroom. This story and more in the Thursday morning news brief.

Thursday morning, October 1, 2020

State

ACLU Settlement Means More Training For Parole Officers

Parole officers in Utah will receive increased training on racial profiling and how and when to conduct home searches due to a settlement reached Wednesday between the ACLU of Utah and the state Department of Corrections. The ACLU filed the lawsuit in January, nearly 16 months after parole officers broke into the home of a Salt Lake City family. The Yañez family was having dinner at their home in Rose Park when the officers arrived, looking for their adult son. They did not have a warrant, but video of the incident shows them forcefully entering the home and tasing Munir Yañez. Along with increased training for parole officers, the plaintiffs will receive a $137,000 payment as part of the settlement. — Kate Groetzinger

Connecting Utahns To Jobs

The Utah Department of Workforce Services is launching a public awareness campaign to help connect Utahns to jobs in industries that are doing well. The state has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, but an estimated 90,000 people are still out of work. Unemployment benefits for many of them will expire at the end of the year. The campaign will include digital billboards, social media posts and television ads, sending the message that jobs are available and people should start looking for work before their benefits run out. — Jon Reed

Northern Utah

Parents Call For Return To Classroom

A group of parents in the Salt Lake City School District handed out 5,000 masks at schools Wednesday, with the hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19 and getting their kids back in the classroom. The district is the only one in the state that began the year fully online. Organizers of the event said a growing community of about 300 parents are now asking for a return to in-person classes after struggling to teach their kids from home. The district said it won’t be safe to return to classes until the positive test rate in Salt Lake County falls below 5% for seven consecutive days. Right now, the positivity rate is over 11%. School officials announced this week class would remain online through November. — Jon Reed

Neff’s Fire Will Burn Until There’s Rain

State fire officials said the wildfire in Neff’s Canyon in Salt Lake County probably will continue to burn until there’s significant rain or snow. Started by lightning, the fire is burning 60 acres in rugged terrain and will continue to smoke and smolder. At a meeting Wednesday night with neighborhood residents, officials walked through evacuation information. They said there’s a low likelihood of evacuation and changing conditions depend on the wind. A meteorologist at the meeting said the next seven to 10 days are expected to be unseasonably warm and dry in the area. — Lexi Peery

Utah State Prison Inmate Dead Following Fight

A Utah State Prison inmate is dead after a fight at the Oquirrh facility. The Department of Corrections officials gave little information and haven't revealed the name of the deceased. The altercation happened Monday night and the State Bureau of Investigation is probing the matter. — Associated Press

Southern Utah

Recording Grand Staircase Escalante

Grand Staircase Escalante is a remote area of Utah that is constantly changing. Thanks to photos from researchers, nonprofits like Grand Staircase Escalante Partners can track those changes, and now they’re asking the public for help. Looking at a recent Instagram post from the group, conservation programs manager Jonathan Paklaian described three photos of the Escalante River taken years apart. They’re all from the same angle and show the growing cottonwood trees, the invasive species that crop up and the watershed restoration. Researchers have been collecting visual data like that for years but Paklaian said the program is getting a reboot to get more community members involved. He said all that’s needed to get started is a GPS, compass, camera and notebook. Read the full story. Lexi Perry, St. George

Region

Find Your “Quaranteam”

Winter is coming and that means outdoor socializing is about to get harder in much of our region. Some countries have endorsed something called a “social bubble,” also known as a “pandemic pod” or “quaranteam.” The idea is to create a small group of people to interact with, while maintaining distance from all others. Epidemiologists recommend establishing ground rules for the bubble on what COVID-19 exposures are considered acceptable to the group. Health officials in places from Canada to New Zealand have endorsed the practice, even making it part of their pandemic control strategies. Read the full story. — Rae Ellen Bichell, Mountain West News Bureau

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