Superintendent Balow expects all 'Smart Start' plans approved this week - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Superintendent Balow expects all ‘Smart Start’ plans approved this week

Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow (Wyoming PBS YouTube)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow offered a bit of optimism during Governor Gordon’s August 12th live press briefing by saying she expected to have approved every school district in Wyoming’s Start Smart” plan by weeks end.

“I am happy to report as of today we have half of the districts approved and I anticipate having the rest of the districts approved by the end of this week,” Balow said.

Balow said this was an important step because it will help put each school district and community in the best possible position to “navigate the many challenges that we will undoubtedly face this year.”

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She added that she was encouraged by the efforts of district officials, school principals and families across Wyoming to help ensure the safety of students and teachers.

Balow said that most school districts would begin the year in Tier One of the Smart Start guide. According to Balow, Tier One is described as regular school operations with some modifications.

She cautioned that in-person instruction this fall was going to look much different than it did before the COVID-19 pandemic began last March.

“Current and new state health orders, as well as local orders, at a minimum require that students are social distancing at a distance of six feet or more. And when that can’t be maintained, students and staff and other visitors are wearing face coverings,” Balow said.

She said that districts were working hard to reconfigure their school space to help students to comply with health guidelines during in-person instruction.

Balow took a moment during her remarks to thank Ron Laird, the director of the Wyoming High School Activities Association for their efforts to help maintain the health of the high school coaches and student-athletes as fall sports have started across much the state.

She concluded her remarks by stating she thought Wyoming schools were in a “good place” but that there would likely be course-corrections, challenges and other innovations that may need to be considered in the future as district officials deal with the pandemic.

“I ask that everyone in Wyoming to be a partner with their school district and keep the lines of communication open and to help navigate this environment,” Balow stated.