Here is the first of several interviews featuring two of the 15 candidates running to be members of the Natrona County School District board of trustees.

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Ryan Landmann taught theater in southern California for 16 years before moving to Dubois, and then to Casper where he currently works as the operations manager at the Ford Wyoming Event Center.

If elected, Landmann said he wants to address attendance rates and test scores at Natrona schools.

"I want to work with all the schools and the rest of the board in improving attendance," Landmann said. "There are currently seven schools that are currently in what they call targeted improvement and I want to increase those test scores, it's a combination of test scores, attendance, and other issues going on at seven schools. So I'd like to see those schools improve. I want to improve the graduation rate at the high schools and make sure all students are college and career ready."

Landmann said he feels that the board could do a better job of listening to concerns brought to them by parents.

"I think I would to see parents heard a little more in the meetings," Landmann said. "I feel like the school board is kind of shutting them down a little bit, that's probably my main thing. We are there to serve the teachers, the parents, the community, the students, and not in any particular order, but the students should be number one, they're our number one priority. And with that goes the parents...I just feel though that when you sit there and listen to the parents come up and voice their displease or their concerns about certain things, especially with regard to those books, I feel like the school board isn't necessarily listening."

When it comes to the district's approach to COVID-19, Landmann said he's against masking and closing schools but thinks the school board did a decent job of handling things.

"I wasn't for masks, I wasn't for shutting down the schools. I think they handled it fine and I think they go the schools reopened as quickly as they could," Landmann said. "I'll you an example, my son has asthma and he's six years old, that's one of the reasons I'm running as well, he's in first grade. And I really would like to see his education blossom here in Natrona County. But I think that they did a good job, he has asthma, and so when he has to wear a mask or when he had to wear a mask, it did affect him, at the end of the day he was doing more coughing and whatnot. So I would have liked to see a little more leniency on that. Especially as the science was changing on that."

Kevin Christopherson has served on the NCSD school board before for eight years, choosing not to run for re-election in 2020 but now feels the need to get back onto the board.

He believes that COVID-19 was a big issue in that the district shutting down for three months and having a mandatory masking policy was detrimental to the students.

"I think COVID, and the lack of school for three months and virtual learning and wearing masks for a year, all of those things have really put our kids at a disadvantage. Not just our kids but all around the world. Those people who figure out how to get the kids back to where they should have been are gonna just gonna be a lot better advantage to our kids if we just focus on what's gonna bring them back...I asked the questions, I got in bigtime trouble for asking, well it wasn't trouble but it made a lot of people mad online for trying to ask Dr. Dowell and Dr. Ghazi how dangerous it was for our kids, cause when you look at it through the lens of the kids, which was going to be more harmful to them, catching COVID and for a kid it's just about getting a cold, some of them didn't even have symptoms or ditching the last half of the school year then masking for a year."

Christopherson said he also believes various aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic were untrue, that the vaccine is dangerous, that the current death count is untrue, and that hospitals were getting paid money to report more deaths.

"Just the question of how many people were passing away from COVID vs with COVID. Because everybody that died for a year and a half died of COVID because the hospitals were getting paid extra money and it was just, I don't know," Christopherson said. "We live in a propaganda world and it's hard to figure out who's telling the truth...masking itself from the research I found was counterproductive. From what they say now, COVID is transmitted by touching your eyes or your mouth after you've touched a contaminated surface. And most doctors now say that it's not transmitted through the air. So wearing masks, at least personally when I had to wear a mask I was touching my face all the time and then touching surfaces other people touch. I went into the health department to get one of those annual screenings, and they had everyone masked up but they were using a common pen...I got COVID a year and a half after most people had it, and I didn't mask and my bout with COVID was more mild than most colds that I've had...there's no way I'd be vaccinated. I've known people who've gotten vaccinated then the next day they were in the hospital almost dead. Then they got COVID. And everybody who's been vaccinated gets COVID anyway, and now they're trying to say that they just have milder versions, which you can't prove, I mean who knows how mild it would have been? I mean mine was mild without vaccination. I'm not gonna let them experiment on me. I am more afraid of the vaccination than I am of COVID. Nobody [knows how many have died of COVID] because they're lying about that. I mean they have statistics out there how many people died with COVID, but everybody that died for any reason and tested positive for COVID is counted as a COVID death. It's kind of strange that there weren't any flu deaths last year, it was all COVID...I don't even trust their COVID tests, there are so many false positives and false negatives, that whole episode was just a whole show into what happens when the government wants to control the people. That's why we shouldn't have centralized government."

While hospitals did receive money if Medicare patients were diagnosed with COVID-19 or were put on ventilators in order to cover the extra costs under the CARES Act passed in 2020, there is no evidence that any hospital deliberately inflated death numbers in order to get more money from the federal government.

According to the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Mayo Clinic, COVID-19 can spread in a variety of ways, though mostly when you're in close contact with someone who has the virus through droplets in the air, along with touching your face after touching a surface contaminated with COVID-19.

While it may be difficult to know the exact number of people that have died because of COVID-19 and died while having COVID-19, looking at the excess death numbers from the CDC, the number of deaths that are above what the U.S. normally has, there have been 1,190,014 excess deaths since February 2020, slightly above the 1,053,173 reported deaths by the CDC.

While the COVID-19 vaccine has been associated with 300,000 fewer deaths in the U.S. according to a report by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, there has been an incorrect report that the vaccine has caused 150,000 deaths.

That report uses data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, which catalogs all issues people had after getting the COVID-19 vaccine, and of the 390 million doses of the vaccine administered, 8,164 deaths were reported for any reason and not necessarily because of the vaccine.

Christopherson said he thinks the district should try to focus on making it easier for kids who want to get into trade jobs and not require them to learn higher-level math.

"I've always thought that it'd be great if we could have at least a two-track curriculum like in Europe they have a four-track," Christopherson said. "It's kind of tough on the kids that will end up being truck drivers like I am or 70% of the kids that graduate from schools don't go on to graduate college. So they need to have life skills. I was really in favor of the PIC and I always wondered if it could be more of a trade school over there, which it's gradually morphed into. But I still can't see why you would make a kid that's going to be a carpenter learn algebra or algebra two. I've always found that interesting that I've been really successful in life and I don't think I've ever used algebra outside of high school. I understand how they use that as a tool to understand who's smart enough to get the better jobs like dentistry or doctor. But to make graduation a requirement that the kids have a higher math, that makes a lot of kids give up and drop out of school."

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