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AM News Brief: COVID Variant, School Ventilation & Teen Treatment Regulations

New Beginnings Behavioral Health building mug
Isaac Hale, Special to The Tribune/Isaac Hale, Special to The Tribu
/
Salt Lake Tribune
(Isaac Hale | Special to The Tribune) Youth residential treatment center New Beginnings Behavioral Health, in foreground, stands in West Jordan on Friday, March 5, 2021. Utah’s youth residential treatment centers will soon see more regulation. This story and more in the Tuesday morning news brief.

Tuesday morning, March 23, 2021

State

New COVID Variant Reaches Utah

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Sunday one case of the Japanese or Brazilian variant of COVID-19 has been found in Utah. Charla Haley with the Utah Department of Health said people should remember we are still in a pandemic. “Our recommendation would be to continue doing what you've been doing all along,” Haley said. “Wash your hands, wear your masks, try to limit your exposure to people who either haven't been vaccinated or are not part of your household.” Haley said UDOH will also follow new CDC guidelines that allow for just three feet of social distancing in schools. — Ross Terrell

Governor Signs Teen Treatment Industry Regulations

Utah’s youth residential treatment centers will soon see more regulation. Gov. Spencer Cox signed off on S.B. 127 Monday, marking the first time in 15 years the state has passed new restrictions on the “troubled teen industry.” The legislation comes after thousands of people, including celebrity Paris Hilton, stepped forward over the past year to describe abuse they say they experienced in Utah facilities. — David Fuchs

Debating Porn Filter Mandate

An adult film star has called on Gov. Spencer Cox to veto a bill that would mandate pornography filters on all new cellphones and tablets sold in Utah. Cherie DeVille said in a letter published this weekend in The Daily Beast that the law would violate residents' First Amendment rights. Supporters say the bill would not violate constitutional rights because adults could turn off the filters. Cox hasn't said if he'll sign the bill, but he has said it would send an important message about preventing explicit online content from getting to kids. — Associated Press

Northern Utah

Creating More Inclusive Schools

At a panel discussion Monday night, superintendents from the Davis, Ogden and Weber school districts outlined some of the efforts they say they’re making to tackle systemic inequalities. They include things like hiring more diverse staff, providing implicit bias training and reexamining discipline policies that impact some students more than others. Weber Superintendent Jeff Stephens said the goal is to create an environment where all students feel they belong. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

UVU Aims At First-Generation Scholarships

Utah Valley University is looking to help more first-generation students attend college by asking for 2,518 people to help raise money for scholarships and other resources. That number represents the cost of one semester of in-state tuition at the school. Students who are the first in their families to attend college often come from lower-income families and tend to graduate at lower rates than their peers. UVU officials say around 37% of its students are first-generation. — Jon Reed

Region/Nation

Ventilating Schools To Fight COVID

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has eased social distancing in K-12 schools to three feet between masked students. But indoor air quality experts say ventilation in school buildings is a bigger problem than spacing. For some classrooms, that will mean opening a window, while others will require funds from the latest COVID-19 relief package to update ventilation systems. According to a 2020 government study, more than 2 out of 5 U.S. districts need to update or replace the heating, air conditioning or ventilation in at least half of their schools. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau