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Balow pleased with vaccine mandate pause but cautions Wyoming school districts that White House may continue push


CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming Superintendent Jillian Balow said in a message to superintendents of school districts across the state on Monday that she is pleased that the COVID-19 vaccine mandate that was intended to impact employers with 100 or more employees has been paused, but cautioned that the White House and the United States Department of Education may continue to try to advance the mandate.

Balow was referring to the vaccine mandate issued by the administration of President Joe Biden that was intended to be enforced through an Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a temporary rule.

“Messaging and direction from the federal government changes frequently but I am doing my best to keep you apprised of what I learn from the state and federal authorities in real time,” Balow said. “I am opposed to the federal government imposing these mandates and am happy to see [not only that] the federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals put a stay in place, [but] now the federal OSHA has stated it will stop enforcing the mandate.”

OSHA has suspended its activities related to enforcing the rule “pending future developments in the litigation” but the agency states that it “remains confident in its authority to protect workers in emergencies.”

Balow said Monday that “the White House and the U.S. Department of Education still appear to be pushing forward” on implementing the vaccine mandate.

Wyoming has joined legal challenges to COVID-19 vaccine mandates and Balow said that the Wyoming Department of Education is looking to Governor Mark Gordon and Attorney General Bridget Hill’s guidance.

“We will continue to follow the lead of Governor Gordon and Attorney General Hill to sort through the legal morass,” she said Monday.

Balow told superintendents earlier this month that they should be consulting with their school districts’ attorneys on how to best handle conflicting opinions between the state and federal government in regard to vaccine mandates.

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.