Governor, Health, and Education Officials Make Keeping Schools Open A Priority Amid COVID Surge

Gov 8-23-21

As students return to classrooms across the state during a time of increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections, state leaders are describing priorities and expectations for students, staff and families.

“Our goal for this school year is to keep our schools open and our students learning safely in-person, in the classroom,” Governor Mark Gordon said. “Today we want to announce our joint plan put in place to achieve this. We recognize it will take a collaborative effort from Wyoming school personnel, students and families to be successful.”

“Wyoming proved over and over during the last school year that in-person instruction and extra-curricular activities can occur safely. I am so proud of the example we have set – it has been truly exceptional. Every community has the expertise, the resources and the commitment to make excellent decisions that ensure we have another successful school year,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow.

Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with the Wyoming Department of Health, said the shared goal continues to be for schools to remain open and operating safely. COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have been increasing in Wyoming over the last few weeks due to the highly contagious Delta variant.

“There is no question most students benefit from in-person learning. We made keeping schools open a priority last year and are doing so again,” Harrist said. “The good news is we now have free, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, which are readily available across Wyoming and are authorized for anyone 12 and older.”

“While there will be no state vaccine mandate in Wyoming, we know promoting vaccination among eligible students, school staff, family members and throughout our communities can help schools stay open and vibrant as well as help keep students and their teachers in the classroom,” Harrist said. “An additional benefit to COVID-19 vaccination is that individuals who are fully vaccinated and identified as close contacts do not need to quarantine, which can be helpful in the school setting.”

Governor Gordon reiterated that personal responsibility is essential. Even though there will be no statewide mask mandate, vaccination and mask usage can help students and staff minimize the ripple effects that illness and quarantining can have on Wyoming’s communities and economy.  “Together we can keep people working, kids learning, businesses thriving and all the members of our families healthy,” the Governor said. 

An added advantage to wearing masks in schools is that when someone is found to have COVID-19 and both that person and anyone who is identified as a close contact were both wearing masks at the time of exposure, quarantine is not necessary.

“These are difficult times and hard on everyone. It is important that parents know what to expect  as we begin the school year, “Governor Gordon added. “Everyone cares deeply and wants to ensure that the year is a success. I ask that we show respect and kindness to one another as we navigate some really tough decisions. We should always remember to treat others as we would like to be treated.”

-Details about what parents can expect if school students test positive or are quarantined can be found on the WDH website and are also being provided to all Wyoming school districts. 

-Detailed guidance for schools from the CDC is available here

-Convenient ways to find where to get COVID-19 vaccines include:

  • Visit Vaccines.gov or vacunas.gov online to search and find vaccine sites.
  • Text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX) or 822862 (VACUNA) to find up to three nearby locations that have vaccines available.
  •  Call the National COVID-19 Vaccination Assistance Hotline at 1-800-232-0233 for phone-based help.

-More information from WDH about vaccination in Wyoming can be found here

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