CHEYENNE – Efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 have pushed both Laramie County Community College and the University of Wyoming to cease in-person learning after the Thanksgiving holiday through the start of the spring semester.
But K-12 schools in Laramie County won’t be following that trend.
“At this point, we’re not looking at doing that,” Laramie County School District 1 Superintendent Boyd Brown said Tuesday afternoon. He said the district is continuing to meet weekly with the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department to assess how to handle learning during the pandemic.
As of Tuesday, the district had reported 157 total positive COVID-19 cases among students and staff since the school year started in August, including 31 new cases reported within the last few days. So far, the district has only had to move one school to a temporary remote learning plan, when there weren’t enough substitute teachers to fill in for quarantined staff at Fairview Elementary.
“I don’t think we’re having a lot of spread at school, but as far as being under control, I don’t think we’ll ever be completely under control,” Brown said.
Across the county and state, however, the number of active positive COVID-19 continues to climb at an alarming rate.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Wyoming Department of Health reported 151 new active cases in Laramie County since Monday afternoon, and 1,271 total. There are currently 8,017 active cases across the state. The virus has caused the deaths of 127 Wyomingites and 239,000 total Americans.
But both LCSD1 and the Laramie County School District 2 are focused on keeping schools open for in-person learning as long as possible.
“We absolutely are not at this time looking to change our calendar between Thanksgiving and Christmas or going forward,” LCSD2 Superintendent Jon Abrams said. “As long as we can staff the schools, we will remain (open for in-person learning).”
Abrams added that, like LCSD1, the district is struggling to find enough substitute teachers willing to take assignments this year.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the district reported that the health department has identified 14 positive cases among students and staff.
Abrams said that while he “doesn’t have the authority to tell people they can’t” travel over the holidays – which public health experts fear could increase the spread of the virus – he is “encouraging people to be careful and make sure that wherever they’re going, they’re being prudent.”
“This is taking a toll on everyone, but we’re trying to make the best of a difficult situation,” said Abrams, who instituted a mask mandate for students and staff when social distancing isn’t possible after the district saw several positive cases last month.
“We’re trying really hard to stay open for in-person instruction,” Abrams said.
“We so appreciate the efforts of students, staff and parents to wear masks. That’s what’s keeping us from having to (go hybrid or remote).”
Kathryn Palmer is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s education reporter. She can be reached at email@example.com or 307-633-3167. Follow her on Twitter at @kathrynbpalmer.