Cheyenne schools to end mask requirement

CHEYENNE — The Laramie County School District 1 Board of Trustees voted 4-3 Monday night to remove the mask mandate for students and faculty, as well as lessen quarantine restrictions.

Trustees Brittany Ashby, Christy Klaassen, Alicia Smith and Tim Bolin approved the addendum to the Smart Start plan for the district, while Marguerite Herman, Rose Ann Million Rinne and Rick Wiederspahn voted no.

“It’s a part of our world now,” said Klaassen. “And, unfortunately, we have to make the best of different situations.”

Students and faculty are still required to wear masks until Friday, Jan. 21, with an official announcement made on the update to the policy. The following Monday, masks will only be highly recommended, with other health protocols, such as staying home, social distancing and washing hands frequently, encouraged.

Although this was the largest request from parents in the community heard during Monday's meeting, it isn't the most immediate change going into effect.

Starting Tuesday, individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19 will not be quarantined from school unless they are displaying symptoms. Symptomatic individuals will immediately be sent home and may not return to LCSD1 property until they have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.

Students and faculty who test positive will only have to stay home for five days, and may return to school or work on the condition they wear a mask for five more days.

Positive individuals will also be required to contact those they have been in close contact with. Masks are recommended for 10 days, with testing on day five. The district will take additional steps if there is a need to quarantine a classroom, grade or school due to high transmission rate.

District Nurse Janet Farmer said school nurses and the principal have been responsible for contact tracing and navigating quarantining, but the system for tracking individuals who need to wear a mask following a positive test has not been confirmed yet. Teachers will need to be informed when a student returns.

“I don’t know,” she said in response to Herman’s inquiry before the vote. “Until we actually start the process, I’m not exactly sure how it will work.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends that exposed and asymptomatic individuals submit a daily COVID-19 test, but the district does not have the resources to provide this option. Officials stated they will attempt to provide as much support as possible.

“These changes are made following consultation with Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department and new guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Wyoming Health Department of Health,” LCSD1 Superintendent Margaret Crespo said at the meeting.