ACSD#1 Families,

The school district continues to manage the occurrences of COVID-19 positive cases in our community, and we have been able to manage with minimal disruption the number of people who have been quarantined as a result of their close contact with a person with a known positive COVID-19 test.

Last week we had 30 students and 14 staff members affected by the identification of COVID-19 as a result of close contact.  We had one staff member and one student who tested positive for COVID-19.  Some of the 30 students were given health orders to quarantine primarily because a member in their immediate household tested positive. A few students were quarantined as a result of a staff member who tested positive for COVID-19 and was in close contact with students during the school day. The number of individuals affected were spread across the district in small numbers.  In other words, there was not a large outbreak in a single building.

The staff member who tested positive was not exhibiting symptoms, but tested positive as a result of testing conducted at the University of Wyoming.  Regardless of whether a person is showing symptoms or not, it is imperative that we take precautions when a positive case is identified to ensure the health and safety of our entire community.

School Board to Review Data on Thursday, September 24, 2020

Positive Cases of COVID-19 are trending upward, and the number of positive tests in the county exceeded 5% over the weekend.  County and state health officials monitor this metric as an indicator of further community spread, and the school district will monitor this number closely during the next 7 – 10 days.  The school board will meet on Thursday, September 24, 2020 at 6 p.m. to review the current COVID-19 data metrics, and discuss the implications with the County Health Officer, Dr. Jean Allais.  The school board will also review the educational progress that students are making during the first few weeks of school.  This meeting will be streamed live on Zoom.

The school board, administration, and parents are anxious to get students back in school buildings full time at the secondary level (middle school and high school).  The school board will review the data this week, and they will consider a move to Tier I (full time) at their next regularly scheduled board meeting on October 14, 2020.

Implementing Precaution and Instilling Hope

Albany County had a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases during the past 7 – 10 days, but the school system and the community continue to manage the incidences by responding appropriately to known cases.  The process of identification and quarantining possible close contact cases is not a novel containment strategy, and the Wyoming Department of Health is providing excellent guidance for school nurses and building level administrators. The school district will continue to implement mitigation strategies of maintaining a 6 foot physical distance, wearing face coverings, implementing proper hand hygiene, and ensuring satisfactory ventilation in school facilities.  The strategies are working, and I am mindful that even though we need to be diligent for the foreseeable future, there will be a time when we have greater certainty about COVID-19 and will know better how to manage the disease.

Please Do Your Part

The daily health checks will continue to be a part of mitigation strategies, and nearly 60% of parents are reporting every day.  The school board established a metric of greater than 90% daily reporting for our community as a condition to stay in Tier I and II.  We have some work to do in this area, but I am confident that we can increase the daily percentage. The daily health checks are a reminder to stay home when ill and an assurance to our community that we are collectively being responsible to protect our children and our community from the potential spread.

The good news is that we have been able to manage the incidence of COVID-19 with limited disruption. The day to day challenges of keeping staff and students safe sometimes take precedence over our focus on education, but we know whatever we do to keep our community safe will be beneficial for our students in the future.  We are working to improve the virtual learning model, and we will continue to strive to provide the best learning opportunities we can for our students.