By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The Cheyenne school district is offering $500 to employees who get a COVID vaccine between now and the end of the year.
Laramie County School District No. 1 officials sent an email to all staff on Tuesday, thanking them for their attention to and diligence in following COVID safety guidelines and offering a one-time incentive of $500 to those who are already fully vaccinated or are willing to undergo bi-monthly COVID tests.
“Participation in the vaccine and testing incentive is entirely voluntary and based on the employees’ personal preferences,” the letter said. “The information provided will help the district know how many employees are fully vaccinated and facilitate the contact tracing and quarantine processes.”
Funding for the incentive comes from federal COVID relief funds, the letter said.
District spokeswoman Mary Quast told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday that the district does not have information on how many employees are vaccinated.
This incentive comes just days after the district reported nearly 50 confirmed cases of the virus within its schools in the week after the fall semester started and just a couple of weeks after a contentious board meeting that led school officials to recommend, but not require, that students use facemasks.
Some people were even harassed by fellow audience members at the meeting for supporting a mask requirement.
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 by federal law to wear masks while on school buses.
As of Tuesday, Laramie County had 370 active COVID cases, the second-highest number in the state, after Natrona County.
The district’s vaccine incentive program is similar to others implemented both around Cheyenne and the state, with some organizations, such as the city of Cheyenne and Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, offering extra paid time off or cash for employees who get vaccinated.