LARAMIE — When classes begin again for the Albany County School District on Thursday, students in kindergarten through eighth grade will have to be masked up for in-person learning at county public schools.
The mandate, approved by a 7-1 vote of the school district's board of education in a special meeting Monday afternoon, also applies to all district students on buses.
The mandate will run through at least Sept. 3.
The board is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. Sept. 1 at Laramie High School to gather public input on requiring masks to guard against the spread of COVID-19 and consider extending the mandate.
Board member Jason Tangeman was the lone vote against the proposal, while board member Janice Marshall was absent.
Superintendent Jubal Yennie sent a letter to the community Friday stating he had asked the board to implement the interim mandate in response to the COVID-19 delta variant and an increasing number of cases in the community.
“We have a lot of folks in our community that were concerned both ways, and we thought we’d better get at least the opening of school clarified, and the board wanted to weigh in on this conversation,” Yennie said.
Board member Nate Martin introduced an amendment that would require students in grades K-12 to wear masks during the interim period. That motion was defeated 5-3, with board members Bear Bear, Jamin Johnson, Lawrence Perea, Kim Sorenson and Tangeman voting against it. Board members Mark Bittner and Emily Sigel Stanton joined Martin in voting for the amendment.
Tangeman introduced an amendment that would have allowed students to remove their masks when seated at their desks and distanced from other students. That amendment also was defeated 6-2, with Jamin Johnson joining Tangeman in support.
Monday also marked the first day of classes for the University of Wyoming, which also has mandated mask wearing for students and staff, along with COVID-19 testing of thousands of people prior to the start of the fall term.