State guidance for Wyoming fall school re-opening released - Casper, WY Oil City News
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State guidance for Wyoming fall school re-opening released

Students outside of the Casper Events Center for the Natrona County High School 2020 graduation ceremony. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming Superintendent Jillian Balow announced during a Wednesday, July 1 press conference the release of a “Smart Start” guidance document for school districts as they prepare for the fall semester of the 2020-2021 school year.

“Our efforts to adapt to the COVID-19 environment have been immense over the last three months,” Balow said in a Wyoming Department of Education release. “Today, as we look to open schools in the fall, I am confident that we will be successful and also transform our school system for the better.”

The guidance document outlines three tiers of possible re-opening scenarios and includes requirements, recommendations and considerations for each tier. Balow explains the three tiers in the Smart Start document as follows:

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• 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.

Supetintendent Balow

School district will be required to submit Smart Start plans to the Wyoming Department of Education by Aug. 3. The plans must show how districts aim to meet requirements laid out for each of the three tiers.

There are four focus areas those plans must address:

  • communications
  • safety and wellness
  • school operations
  • instruction and technology

“This preparation will allow districts to continue safely and effectively operating schools no matter which tier of operation they are in based on state or local health orders,” the WDE says.

The Smart Start guidance was put together by a working group created by Governor Mark Gordon’s COVID-19 Education Task Force.

“The group consists of school district leaders and educators, health professionals, representatives from the Governor’s Office, and technology partners,” the WDE says. “The Working Group is co-chaired by Wanda Maloney, Wyoming Department of Education Accountability Director and Stephanie Pyle, Senior Administrator of the Public Health Division with the Wyoming Department of Health.”

Details of the requirements, recommendations and considerations can be found in the full Smart Start Guidance Document.

The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:

What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.

If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.

Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.

For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email:

  • Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.