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AM News Brief: School Grades Down, Avalanche Training Up & Health Care Enrollment Due Today

Photo of people in snow gear digging
Nate Hegyi
/
Mountain West News Bureau
Enrollment in avalanche education courses seems to be at an all-time high across the Mountain West region. This story and more in the Tuesday morning news brief.

Tuesday morning, December 15, 2020

State

Limiting State Power For A Vaccine Mandate

Utah Rep. Robert Spendlove, R-Sandy, is planning to introduce a bill that would prohibit the state government from mandating a COVID-19 vaccine for the general public, though Gov.-elect Spencer Cox has said he would not create such a rule. The bill would, however, allow private businesses to require vaccinations. Cox said he supports the bill in concept because it “seems like an appropriate balance.” Lawmakers are still discussing, though, whether to require vaccines in universities and K-12 schools, according to Spendlove. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Health Care Enrollment Deadline

The deadline to enroll in Affordable Care Act health coverage is Tuesday. Plans through the ACA cover preventative care and essential services, and are available to all U.S. citizens and nationals regardless of income. The Utah Health Policy Project also encouraged those who already have insurance through the marketplace to compare plans instead of automatically renewing their coverage to make sure they are getting the best deal. As of last week, more than 102,000 Utahns had signed up for health insurance through the marketplace. — Caroline Ballard

Northern Utah

Salt Lake School Grades Down

Student scores in Salt Lake City elementary schools are down while pupils attend school online during the coronavirus pandemic. The percentage of students scoring below grade level in one or more subjects is up from 23% in 2019 to 32% this year. Students scored lowest for reading and writing, where around 40% of elementary kids are now scoring below standard. Student proficiency fell the most in science. Sixth-graders scored worst as a group. — Associated Press

Southern Utah

Dixie State Board Votes For Name Change

The Board of Trustees at Dixie State University unanimously voted Monday to recommend a name change. A survey by the university found the name’s ties to the confederacy was having a negative impact on students and faculty. DSU alumna and trustee Tiffany Wilson said it wasn’t an easy decision to come to, but she was concerned about the word “Dixie’s” history. Survey results about the name showed over a quarter of students did not like wearing Dixie apparel outside of Utah. And almost half the faculty surveyed said it negatively impacts the university’s reputation. University President Richard Williams said those kinds of responses prompted the change. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Region

As Winter Recreation Increases, Avalanche Training Vital

Enrollment in avalanche education courses seems to be at an all-time high across the Mountain West region. Newcomers to backcountry recreation make up most of the numbers, but experts say it’s also important for those with more experience to sharpen their skills and prepare for the season. According to the Colorado Avalanche Information center, three-quarters of avalanche victims are experienced backcountry recreationists. That could be because they’re more likely to enter risky situations. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau