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AM News Brief: Natalie Cline Reprimanded, Grand County Classes Canceled & Lagoon Lawsuit

Caroline Ballard
A paraplegic man is now suing Lagoon Amusement Park after he was injured on a roller coaster there last year.


Utah State Board Of Education Reprimands Natalie Cline 

A member of the Utah State Board of Education was formally punished last week for the first time. Board leadership sent a letter of reprimand to Natalie Cline who’s been critical of schools’ efforts to create more inclusive classroom environments. Most recently, she called out Layton High School’s seminary for displaying an LGBTQ pride flag. The board’s letter said Cline’s social media posts are a threat to teachers and students as they convey “an attitude of prejudice, exclusion, and scorn for a population of students that suffers disproportionately.” The board has previously said it cannot remove Cline from her seat, but it can vote to publicly disapprove of her comments. — Jon Reed

Utah Symphony And Opera Instituting New Covid Guidelines

Starting Sept. 16, audience members for Utah Symphony and Utah Opera performances will need to be vaccinated or have a recent negative COVID-19 test. The new Covid guidelines are for all indoor performances. Until then, face coverings are required for everyone. After Sept. 16, unvaccinated attendees and those under the age of 12 will still be able to attend, but they’ll have to continue wearing masks. Vaccinated people are strongly encouraged to wear them. — Lexi Peery

Northern Utah

Paraplegic Man Sues Lagoon Amusement Park Over Injury

A paraplegic man who was injured on a roller coaster last year is now suing Lagoon Amusement Park. He said his paralyzed leg wasn't properly secured and his foot was shredded. The Salt Lake Tribune reports Matthew Christensen filed the lawsuit last week. The suit says Christensen's ligament in his big toe was "irreparably shredded," and that he suffered fractures to his lower leg, toe, and two other foot bones. A spokesman for the park said he couldn't speculate on the facts of the incident, which are under investigation. — Associated Press

Southern Utah

Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson Tours St. George ICU 

Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson toured St. George’s ICU Friday afternoon. A majority of the patients she saw were unvaccinated. Less than 40% of southwest Utah residents are fully vaccinated, which is well below the state’s rate. Henderson said what she and the governor have done in encouraging vaccinations is “as effective as it’s going to be.” Now she said it’s up to local health care providers. Washington County Commissioner Gil Almquist said local leaders won’t mandate anything, but people should get vaccinated because it’s the right thing to do. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Grand County Cancels Classes At High Schools Due To Lack Of Teachers 

The Grand County School District is cancelling classes at its high school this week due to a lack of teachers. It announced over the weekend that 10 staff members at Grand County High School had contracted COVID-19 and there aren’t enough substitutes to fill in. Classes and afterschool programs will start up again Sept. 13. The district is also putting a 30-day mask mandate in place for all students starting this week. It had previously been one of the few districts to have a mask mandate for K-6 students. — Jon Reed


Viewing Wildfires As Social Justice Issues 

As wildfire seasons intensify, some researchers want communities to see them as a social justice issue. Many people live in fire prone areas because they can’t afford to live in cities. They also can’t pay to make their homes more fire resistant. It can be problematic to expect people tied to the land, like Indigenous communities, to pick up and move. Fire scientists say part of the answer is more prescribed burns — a method to managing wildfires that has long been part of the toolbox for Indigenous people.  — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

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