By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Less than 24 hours before students in Sheridan were to entering the school halls for the 2021-22 school year, the district’s board of trustees implemented a mask mandate.
Sheridan County School District No. 2 students will be required to wear masks beginning Tuesday, with the plan to be re-evaluated every two weeks, depending on the number of active coronavirus cases in the district and county.
The board, during a special meeting Monday, agreed to adopt the mask mandate in the face of continuing increases in active cases in both Sheridan County and across Wyoming.
“Based on the alarming COVID-19 facts shared by Sheridan County health officials, we have worked together to recommend a mask requirement to our Board of Trustees,” said superintendent of schools Scott Stults. “We have been monitoring local data closely, and COVID-19 cases have truly exploded.”
Prior to the special board meeting, the district received a letter signed by Sheridan County’s health officer. The letter, addressed to all three Sheridan County school districts, directly requested that a mask requirement be instated in schools.
“It is imperative we keep our children safe and in school. The best way to achieve this goal at this time is to require face masks in Sheridan County Schools,” the letter said.
The letter went on to state that “Sheridan Memorial Hospital leadership and the providers of Sheridan Memorial Hospital Internal Medicine all support the requirement to have students and staff of Sheridan County Schools require protective face masks. Our local practicing pediatricians, Drs. Wohl, Bowers, Oss, Sanderson, and Ejtehadi, also support this recommendation.”
As of Monday, Sheridan County had 182 active coronavirus cases.
“As elected officials, we have taken a stand to protect our students and staff,” said Board Chair Susan Wilson. “We understand that some constituents have concerns about this decision, but just as many have contacted trustees asking for us to make the tough call to put safety first and require masks.”
This follows in the steps of Albany and Teton counties, both of which have implemented temporary mask mandates in their schools. Goshen County school board members are to consider a mandate later this week.