Coronavirus cases continue to decline in Albany County, and the Wyoming Department of Health reports that Albany County is at a low level of transmission of COVID-19 in our community. We will return to Tier I (full in-person) learning at Laramie Middle School and Laramie High School after spring break on March 22, 2021. COVID-19 mitigation strategies will still be in place for our schools, since CDC guidelines and Wyoming Department of Health guidelines have not changed for public K-12 schools. You can review the current health orders on the WDH website.

You may have heard that the Governor will ease some of the statewide restrictions with the new health orders to be issued beginning March 16, 2021. The new health orders will permit some latitude, but for the most part, there will not be changes for K-12 education.

The one change that your child will notice when school resumes on March 22, 2021 is more students in classrooms in the middle and high school. All schools will continue to “maintain 6-feet of separation between individuals as much as possible,” however, classrooms will have a lower standard of distance, which has been approved by state and county health officers. Common areas (cafeterias, auditoriums, large classrooms) will still ensure 6-feet distance, and the use of face coverings will still be required in K-12 schools. Next week’s health orders will also permit an increase in the number of people who can gather indoors, so some of the events that are planned for later in the year (Prom or high school graduations) have a greater likelihood of occurring.

The State Health Officer reiterated that face coverings are still required in K-12 settings because of three main reasons: current metrics show the use of face coverings have been effective in schools; secondly, while people may choose to enter other public places, school attendance is required; and finally, students do not have to quarantine for 14 days when everyone in the classroom is wearing a face covering.

The other change that you will notice after spring break is the change to the COVID-19 decision guide for readmittance to school if a student displays COVID like symptoms. Since Albany County is at a low level of community transmission, CDC guidance no longer requires that students or staff members have a negative PCR COVID-19 test prior to readmittance to school. Students or staff will have to be symptom free for 24 hours prior to return, but they will not be required to have a negative COVID-19 test.

State and local officials anticipate lessening of restrictions during the spring, but these changes are contingent upon continued adherence to COVID-19 mitigation strategies and the vaccination of as many people as possible in our county.

We continue to be hopeful that vaccinations and mitigation strategies used in our schools will put the pandemic behind us. We still need to remain diligent and practice the CDC prevention strategies, but as we enter spring break a year removed from closing schools, I am encouraged that we are moving in the right direction to resume school operations that resemble more of what we have known as normal.