CHEYENNE, Wyo. — During a lengthy special meeting of the Board of Trustees for Laramie County School District #1, an addendum was approved to the district’s Smart Start Plan that will now require all K-12 students and LCSD employees to wear masks when indoors during times when the community is considered to be at a “high risk” of spreading the virus.
“If the Laramie County community is at high or substantial risk of transmission and designated to be in the ‘red’ or ‘orange’ levels,” the addendum reads, “classrooms will return to the 2020-2021 instructional protocols of requiring a mask when a distance of [at least] 6 ft cannot be maintained between all staff and students while indoors. Mask-free zones and mask breaks will be utilized in all classrooms.
According to Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department (CLCHD), Laramie County is currently rated as high risk (RED) for community transmission. “When in a high or substantial risk area, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends all individuals regardless of vaccination status wear a face covering when in public indoor spaces,” the CLCHD stated.
After a long discussion between The Board voted to approve the inclusion of the addendum to the district’s mask protocols.
LCSD #1 said it will change mask protocol requirements based on current data on the dial from the CLCHD as well as input from state, county and local health officials. Officials went on to say that throughout the school year the district will provide regular updates to families and the community using existing communication methods.
This change in protocol comes as the community spread of COVID-19 has been increasing over the past several weeks. Today, the Wyoming Department of Health reported an additional 441 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state.
In late August, Dr. Margaret Crespo, Superintendent of Schools for Laramie County School District, issued a letter to families this evening that outlined the district’s decision on the use of face coverings for the beginning of the 2021-22 school year. In Crespo’s letter, she stated that the district has decided not to implement a mask mandate but encourages their use by students when social distancing won’t be possible.
Today, LCSD #1 reported that 182 students and employees have contracted COVID and 995 have been quarantined due to exposure to the virus.
At the onset of the public comment section during the special meeting of the Board of Trustees for LCSD #1, a bevy of healthcare workers and parents called in to show their support for the implementation of a mask mandate within the schools.
Multiple parents also called in to argue that a mask mandate would negatively affect their children’s emotional, academic and physical well-being.
The 2021-2022 LCSD1 Smart Start Addendum is as follows:
The Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department has shared a level of urgency regarding masks and the need to return to face coverings. Due to the rise in positive COVID-19 cases and an increase in the volume of student and staff quarantines, the following guidelines for mask protocols will be put in place to support remaining fully open and to reduce the potential for quarantine:
Please note, because of recent changes in legislation, Wyoming school districts are faced with making health protocol decisions. The decision to wear masks is not taken lightly and is made following input from the state and county health officers with careful review of community transmission and CDC guidance. State and county information can be found at the following link: Covid-19 County Guidance | City County Health (laramiecountycovid.com)
If the Laramie County community is at high or substantial risk of transmission and designated to be in the “red” or “orange” levels—
• Classrooms will return to the 2020-2021 instructional protocols of requiring a mask when a distance of less than 6 ft cannot be maintained between all staff and students. Mask free zones and mask breaks will be utilized in all classrooms.
If Laramie County is in the “yellow” or “green” designation, universal mask wearing is recommended indoors and in crowded outdoor settings. This requirement applies to all individuals other than children under the age of two or with a medical exemption from a healthcare professional.
The Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department and the Wyoming Department of Health have provided decision making metrics and an easy-to-read dial to determine if close contacts will be required to quarantine after exposure to a COVID-positive individual. LCSD1 administration will change mask protocol requirements based on current data on the dial as well as input from state, county and local health officials.
Throughout the school year LCSD1 will provide regular updates to families and the community using existing communication methods (district wide email, text, principal communication and Remind).
Additional guidance has been taken from the following resources: Guidance for COVID-19 | CDC, Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools | CDC
This story is developing and will be updated.
The Wyoming Department of Health provides COVID-19 case, variant, death, testing, hospital and vaccine data online. The department also shares information about how the data can be interpreted. COVID-19 safety recommendations are available from the CDC.