(Dan Cepeda, Oil City News File)

Hot Springs County, Wyoming Schools will be initially going virtual, amid concerns surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement was made on the Hot Springs County School District #1 webpage on Tuesday.

“Due to the recent rise in COVID-19 infections in our community and across the state, HSCSD #1 will be moving to a digital instruction format starting September 1st,” the written announcement reads.

Currently, the district says they’re planning on returning to in-person instruction on Sept. 13, 2021.

“Students will receive instruction through their Google Classroom account in all grades, with the exception of Kindergarten and 1st grade, which will also receive some homework packets. Students have been provided with their Chromebook device to take home today, August 31st,” HSCSD officials continued.

According to data from the Wyoming Department of Health that was published on August 31, Hot Springs County has reported 124 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID over the last two weeks.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Hot Springs County has reported a total of 426 lab-confirmed cases since February 2020. It has also been reported that there have been four COVID-19-related deaths in the county in that time.

“It is disappointing to be in a digital instruction period this early in the school year, but unfortunately numbers of students and staff infected with COVID-19 or under quarantine orders [have] reached the threshold of needed separation.”

During the digital period, no activities — including practices — will be taking place. A food service team will be handing out meals Wednesday, September 1 and Wednesday, September 8.

According to the district, grades will be taken and students will be counted present by doing assigned work. Officials warn that not participating in the digital learning could result in difficulties.

The district goes on to say that contact is being made with guardians and students with Individualized Education Programs to discuss virtual IEP specialized instruction.

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