Wyoming officials are recommending that all Wyoming schools remain closed until at least April 3, according to news releases issued Sunday.

Governor Mark Gordon and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow made the recommendation to all local superintendents and school boards, who will make the final decisions on closures in their districts.

Decisions about the requirement for school staff to report to work will also be made by local school boards.

Natrona County schools will be closed until April 5, the district announced Sunday, adding that further details will be shared with parents, guardians and staff as soon as possible in the coming days.

Laramie County School District No. 1 announced earlier Sunday that its schools would remain closed until at least April 7.

The three-week closure recommended by state officials will allow Gordon and Balow to continue monitoring developments, with the goal of returning students to classrooms as soon as safely possible.

According to Sunday's release, the recommendation is not necessarily based on epidemiological best practices, but is an attempt to allow schools and communities to prepare to operate in a way that mitigates community spread of COVID-19 and minimizes negative economic impacts locally and statewide.

“This is Wyoming, where we are all neighbors,” Governor Gordon said. “While social distancing should be a priority for all of us, it should not keep us from helping out our neighbors. I am thinking of our first responders and healthcare workers on the frontlines who may be without child care. This is a time, if the risk is low, to help one another out.”

Gordon and Balow on Sunday urged local school district leadership to "work within their schools and communities to ensure the continuity of learning and essential services as determined locally."

“In the midst of this pandemic, communities need the latitude, empowerment, and support to make difficult decisions that affect education, economy, and essential functions,” Governor Gordon continued.  “While we safeguard the health of every person we must also do our best to continue our daily work for the economic security of our state and nation.”

“Evidence of community spread in Fremont County, two confirmed cases in Sheridan County, and pending tests from across the state have led us to this,” Superintendent Balow said. “Wyoming has over 90,000 square miles where schooling is an essential function in each community – the decision is difficult.”

The best ways to keep COVID-19 from spreading, the officials say, are social distancing, basic hygiene and basic disinfection efforts. Those practices are strongly encouraged.

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