The number of COVID-19 positive cases continue to escalate in the county, but we have found that schools are not places with significant transmission. We will continue to stay with in-person learning (5 days full time at elementary and A/B schedule for secondary schools) and work to navigate the challenges that we will face in the next couple of weeks.

The school board and administration continue to monitor the metrics that were established in the Maintaining School Operations report that was approved by the school board in September.  We have met some of the thresholds identified in the report, but we are not at the point that we need to move to full-time remote learning. The focus for Tier 3 metrics described in the report included the following:

  • More than 5% positive cases in the county
  • More than 2 cases per day in seven day rolling average in the school community
  • Less than 80% student and staff attendance in Tier 2
  • Less than 2 week supply of PPE and sanitation supplies

The greatest concern for our community is the percentage of positive cases in the county.  This past week, the percentage has increased to over 5% for the first time.  This data is taken from the Wyoming Department of Health website and is a rolling 14 day average. When we reach a threshold, we assess the context of the situation and make a decision regarding an operational strategy. Even though the number of cases exceeds 5% in the county, this is not an automatic trigger for Tier 3. There are other factors that must be considered before we move to Tier 3 and full-time remote learning. We continually consult with the Albany County Health Officer, Dr. Allais, regarding community spread, and Dr. Allais agrees that transmission is not occurring in the schools. Dr. Allais concurs that the school district should not implement Tier 3 (schools closed—all students doing remote learning).

We do have more than two positive cases per day in our schools over a seven-day rolling average, but the context of these cases is not due to transmission in the schools. We will continue to monitor positive cases closely.  When this metric was established, we thought that two cases in a building would be an indicator of significant spread in the schools.  That has not occurred. The mitigation strategies that are being implemented at the schools are working—small group gatherings and appropriate physical distance, use of face coverings, and frequent hand washing.

The final two metrics for Tier 3 consideration (attendance and supplies) have not been a concern.  Student attendance is consistently between 92 – 95%, and we have PPE and sanitation supplies.

The challenge for the school district for the next two weeks will be maintaining personnel in our school buildings to continue to keep school in session.  Due to the transmission of COVID-19 in our community, our employees have come in close contact with friends, acquaintances, and family members who have tested positive.  In order to keep the schools safe, we have demanded that affected staff quarantine for no less than 14 days. We need the help of the community to make sure that we can continue to operate the schools safely.  I am asking that our community adhere to CDC guidelines of maintaining a physical distance, wearing a face covering, and washing hands frequently. These strategies are working in our buildings, and I believe they can work for our community.  I am asking for greater diligence and personal responsibility to reduce the amount of spread in our community.