Due to the unprecedented circumstances facing Wyoming, Gov. Mark Gordon and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow have recommended that all schools remain closed to students through at least April 3.

"This is a recommendation to local superintendents and school boards, who will make the final decisions on closures," Gordon's office said Sunday. "Additionally, decisions relating to the requirement for school district staff to report to work remain with local school boards of trustees."

Gordon and Balow will continue to monitor COVID-19 developments throughout this three-week period, with the goal of getting students back to classrooms as soon as safely possible.

"This 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," Gordon's office said.

“This is Wyoming, where we are all neighbors,” said Gordon. “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 urge 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,” said Gordon.  “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,” said Balow. "Wyoming has over 90,000 square miles where schooling is an essential function in each community – the decision is difficult.”

Social distancing, basic hygiene, and heightened disinfection efforts continue to be the primary means to contain COVID-19 spread, and Gordon and Balow strongly encourage everyone to continue these practices.

Local school districts continue to be empowered to make decisions in consultation with the State Department of Health and local health care officials as to closure and other containment strategies.

Gordon, Balow, the State Health Officer and others will continually evaluate COVID-19 data, guidance from the Center for Disease Control, and other reliable information to make additional recommendations.

CDC guidance and other resources are available at https://edu.wyoming.gov/. Balow is exploring her ability to hold districts harmless from any financial reduction as a result of this ten instructional day loss. In addition, the Wyoming Department of Education has received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow schools to offer student meals during school closures. For more information, visit: https://edu.wyoming.gov/educators/covid-19-resources/


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