Governor Mark Gordon will leave decision to individual school districts
Last year, Wyoming students who returned to school for in-person learning were required to wear masks. This year, Governor Mark Gordon has signaled no such requirement will be issued.
The announcement comes as the Cowboy State sees active cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) top more than 1,000 for the first time since February 2021 and confirmed cases of the delta variant continue to rise. In Carbon County, there were 39 active cases of COVID-19 as of August 9 with 16 new cases and 29 total variant cases according to data from the Wyoming Department of Health.
Since the pandemic began, Carbon County has had 1,629 total laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 1,567 recoveries. Additionally, there have been 786 deaths statewide with 25 of them in the county. In the past two weeks, Carbon County has averaged 84 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
Gordon, in a press release issued August 4, stated he would leave the decision as to whether masks should be required in schools up to their respective school districts.
“Wyoming was first in the nation in having a safe and successful in-person school year last year,” Gordon said. “My focus is on supporting local school boards as they take into account conditions in their community and work to assure students learn safely this year too.”
The governor also urged Wyoming residents who have not yet vaccinated to do so. Gordon cited a report from the Wyoming Department of Health in which it was stated of the 300 people infected by COVID-19 and hospitalized, 94 percent were not fully vaccinated.
“As our hospitals continue to see more COVID-19 hospitalizations, and as long-term and child care facilities are forced to close due to COVID-19 infections, it is time to remember all the things we learned last year and consider getting vaccinated as the most effective way to protect yourself against severe illness,” said Gordon. “And let us not forget the Wyoming way and work to be kind to one another.”
As of August 9, only 196,545 Wyomingites—33.87 percent—had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Carbon County is slightly below that number with 33.71 percent—4,979 people—vaccinated. Of the approximately 33.9 percent of vaccinated Wyomingites, 14.8 percent are adolescents, 42.4 percent or over 18 years of age and 61.3 are over 65 years of age. In Carbon County, 7.36 percent of adolescents were vaccinated, 42.96 of adults were vaccinated and 57.78 percent of seniors were vaccinated.
While Gordon encouraged Wyoming residents to get vaccinated, he also issued a directive in May preventing state agencies, boards and commissions from requiring “vaccine passports” to access state spaces and state services.
The first day of school in Carbon County School District No. 2 will be on August 23.