Laramie School District Extends Mask Mandate Until December

in News/Coronavirus

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Laramie school board members have extended the school district’s mask mandate for K-12 students until mid-December, around the time students leave for the holiday break.

The Albany County School District’s mask mandate will be in place until at least Dec. 17.

“The board determined that since the two-week winter break starts the Monday following Dec. 17, families that choose to vaccinate against COVID-19 will have until Monday, Jan. 3, to have their children fully vaccinated before school resumes,” the announcement from the board said.

The board also said that it would revisit the mask mandate after Dec. 17 if either the county vaccination rate rises to 70% or the Wyoming Department of Health lists the county in its moderate transmission level zone for three weeks. Currently, the county is in the moderate-high transmission level zone.

As of Wednesday, Albany County had 125 active COVID cases and 50.2% of the county has been vaccinated against the virus, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.

The mandate’s extension comes in the face of a lawsuit filed against the school district and five others. The district was named in the lawsuit for pursuing trespass charges against a student because she refused to wear a mask at Laramie High School.

Grace Smith was arrested last month on trespassing charges for refusing to leave the school after being asked to do so because she was not wearing a mask.

Grace went into custody willingly and was polite with officers when arrested, videos taken and shared by her father show. The teen was also fined $1,000.

Grace has withdrawn from the high school due to the controversy, but has not ruled out enrolling again for her senior year.

A federal lawsuit filed against the state, school districts and others on behalf of a group of Wyoming students and their parents, including Grace, is asking that all mask requirements in place in some schools across the state be ruled unconstitutional and declared void.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on Nov. 2 charges that rules adopted by some school districts requiring students to wear masks while in class, observe social distancing and quarantine when exposed to coronavirus have been improperly adopted.

The 128-page lawsuit alleges Gov. Mark Gordon, the Wyoming Department of Health, state Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist, six school districts, county health officers in five counties imposed various coronavirus-related restrictions and requirements even though they lacked the authority to do so. The school districts are in Sheridan, Albany, Laramie, Goshen, Sweetwater and Uinta counties.

Albany County School District No. 1, which includes Laramie High, adopted its requirement for the use of face masks in September.

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