By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow expects school life in Wyoming’s 23 districts to be a completely new experience once classes resume later this month.
This will be due to not only the coronavirus pandemic, but also each district’s individualized response to the new state health guidelines.
Balow said as much during an interview on KGAB radio Monday morning with Cheyenne radio host Glenn Woods.
The Wyoming Department of Education has adopted only a few new rules aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus, such as requiring social distancing and the use of face masks, but it is making multiple suggestions to the various school districts regarding reopening plans, Balow said.
Districts will be allowed to make their own decisions when it comes to school bus routes, cafeterias and other activities, she said. They can also decide how they will deliver classes and whether or not there will be a mix of online and in-person courses as health orders are updated.
“We might end up seeing an increased number of bus routes and spacing out when the buses can leave because they need to be cleaned,” Balow said during the interview. “As for cafeterias, students may end up eating in classrooms, or there might be staggered lunch schedules. It’s just going to depend on the school, because a district like here in Laramie County is going to look different from a rural one.”
Balow also expects a bit of a catch-up period for students, both academically and socially. However, she’s grateful that students who might come from a background of maltreatment will return to a safe environment at school.
“Some kids took to an alternative learning environment really well and others didn’t, for various reasons,” she said. “But then we had some students who were hard to reach, and those were the ones who kept us up at night. So we could definitely be dealing with some academic gaps and ones caused by severe trauma.”