Balow Says Schools Can Soon Begin Reopening on Limited Basis

in News/Coronavirus

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming Department of Education Superintendent announced Thursday that Wyoming schools will be able to reopen soon in a limited capacity.

During a press conference on Thursday afternoon hosted by Gov. Mark Gordon and State Health Officer Alexia Harrist, Gordon announced his plans to begin gradually scaling back the restrictions on businesses next week. New state health orders reflecting an easing of some restrictions are to to be issued by April 30.

Balow said that the scaling back of restrictions created an opportunity for Wyoming schools to provide limited in-person instruction for certain students, such as those with learning disabilities or other special needs.

But, proper social distancing and increased sanitation measures will need to be put in place before in-person learning can happen, even on a limited basis, she said.

“Various students will need to enter the school facilities throughout the summer, so we need to discuss how to make that work, and we can start with these special populations,” Balow said.

In order to fully reopen schools for the summer or the 2020-2021 school year, all Wyoming school districts will have to submit proposals on the their plans for resuming classes. These plans will have to be approved by each district’s county health officer before being submitted to the WDE.

“All of us should recognize that reopening schools to students doesn’t mean we’re going back to normal,” Balow said. “There are going to be new protocols for health and safety. This is our new normal.”

In a news release issued Thursday evening, Balow said she and her staff will provide guidance to school districts, including a template for reopening schools.