By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Cheyenne schools saw an outbreak of nearly 50 cases of the coronavirus last week during the first five days of the fall semester.
According to a report from the Laramie County School District No. 1, there were 39 cases among students found last week and 10 cases found among staff.
Officials with the school district, the state’s largest, said cases were confirmed at more than half of its schools.
The Wyoming Department of Education declined to comment on the issue, pointing Cowboy State Daily back to the school district.
“Without a statewide mask mandate, decisions on safety protocols are being made at the school district level,” WDE spokeswoman Linda Finnerty said.
The district said it would contact students and staff who have been in contact with those who have been diagnosed with confirmed coronavirus cases for “guidance regarding next steps.”
Students in the district are being advised to wear masks when they can’t maintain a certain distance from others in school (6 feet during athletics and activities, 4 feet when seated in the lunchroom and 3 feet when in the classroom). They are required to wear masks while on school buses, which is a federal mandate.
Discussions about a mask requirement in the district grew heated during the board of trustees meeting earlier this month, with some people even calling school officials “criminals” and “child abusers.” Some people were even harassed by fellow audience members for supporting a mask requirement.
Active COVID case numbers for other school districts in the state were not immediately available. Some, like Natrona County, will begin the fall semester this week.
Both Teton and Albany counties’ schools have implemented a temporary mask mandate, as well as the University of Wyoming.