Wyoming health officials release guidance for schools in the event of COVID-19 cases - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Wyoming health officials release guidance for schools in the event of COVID-19 cases

Natrona County High School (Gregory Hirst)

CASPER, Wyo — The Wyoming Department of Education, in conjunction with the Wyoming Department of Health, have released guidelines for schools in the event that students or staff test positive for COVID-19.

“In most instances, a single case of COVID-19 in a school would not warrant closing the entire school. Short dismissals may be recommended for a school or a segment of the school to allow time to complete the appropriate cleaning and for public health officials to conduct the contact investigation. If there is a significant outbreak within a school, then more extensive closures may be necessary,” the document stated.

The document states that COVID-19 case identification and contact tracing are the responsibility of public health officials and not expected of school officials. Follow-up protocols, including possible school closures, will be determined by public health officials on a case-by-case basis.

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Schools would be notified by public health of a positive result and request additional information such as seating charts and schedules.

“Whether a school has to close, as well as the length of any closures, will depend on multiple factors, including but not limited to the number of cases detected within the school, the extent of COVID-19 spread within the community, and the extent to which COVID-19 precautions have been implemented within the school,” the document stated.

The guidelines state:

The person with COVID-19 will be issued isolation orders. These orders direct the person to stay home except to seek medical care. If the person with COVID-19 has symptoms, the case will remain in isolation until:

● 10 days have passed since symptoms started, and
● The person has been fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever- reducing medication, and
● The person has noticed improvement in respiratory symptoms

If the person with COVID-19 has no symptoms, he or she will remain in isolation until at least 10 days have passed since their COVID-19 test was collected.

Wyoming Department of Health
Wyoming Department of Health
Wyoming Department of Health

Public health officials will also work with school officials to determine whether a school needs to move into a different tier of operations – for example, move from Tier 1 into Tier 2 according to the SmartStart Guidance.

Smart Start plans for Wyoming schools released in July outline three tiers of possible re-opening scenarios and includes requirements, recommendations and considerations for each tier. Balow explained the system:

  • Tier I is where we are right now – schools are open to students with some new health precautions such as social distancing or the use of masks..
  • Tier II is a combination of in-person instruction with possible intermittent closures and quarantining of students and staff.
  • Tier III is the full closure of school buildings to students at the county or state level, like what occurred at the end of last school year.