Governor and superintendent recommend closing schools state-wide

WYOMING — Governor Mark Gordon and State Superintendent Jillian Ballow recommended today that all schools across the state close through at least April 3.

Teton County School District made the call to close schools a week early this morning. Other school boards and superintendents through the state will make the final decisions on their school closures.

Additionally, decisions relating to the requirement for school district staff to report to work remain with local school boards of trustees. Governor Gordon and Superintendent 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.

“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.”

The Governor and State Superintendent 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,” 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.”

Social distancing, basic hygiene, and heightened disinfection efforts continue to be the primary means to contain COVID-19 spread. We 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.

In Teton County, TSCD staff will report to work Monday and Tuesday but practice social distancing.

Food services will be availalbe for free all week for any individual under the age of 19, enrolled student or not. Two meals at a time (breakfast and lunch) will be available for pickup through March 20.

The Fund for Public Education has launched a new fundraising campaign to support the district during COVID-19. This is primarily focused on feeding hungry kids.

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