10 Cases of COVID-19 Confirmed in Maskless Cody Schools
Written by Andrew-Rossi on May 17, 2021
Cody schools end an unorthodox year with an unwelcome guest back in the classroom, showing our schools and our community have yet to graduate from the pandemic.
Just as Park County School District #6 should be coasting to the end of a challenging year, the year’s greatest challenge threw one more test at schools. As of Thursday, May 13, over ten individuals – Cody students and staff – are either quarantined or out of school across the district.
The district confirmed the “unfortunate uptick” in a Facebook post last week. Included in the post was a breakdown of where each case was confirmed.
- One staff member and seven students at Cody Middle School
- Two students at Cody High School
- Two students at Sunset Elementary
- Two students at Livingston Elementary
This surge of cases ends a nearly two-month stretch of Cody schools being entirely free of COVID-19.
Cases were consistently low enough for long enough that the school board unanimously voted to request a mask variance from the Wyoming Department of Health. That variance was granted and in effect by Monday, April 26.
On Monday, May 10, the district confirmed two Cody Middle School teachers had COVID-19. In a statement to K.O.D.I., Superintendent Peg Monteith affirmed that the district would not revert to mandatory masks.
“We are absolutely not requiring masks,” said Monteith in the statement. “We are recommending that those who may be concerned about the fact that two staff members have tested positive at C.M.S. are aware of that and exercise the option of wearing a mask. Parents use their best judgment regarding their own children.”
Cody has undergone a similar surge in COVID-19 cases. As more out-of-state visitors stream into Cody, the city has seen more confirmed cases and hospitalizations.
In the opinion of Park County Public Health Officer Dr. Aaron Billin, the increase was “reliably isolated. He added, “our numbers should be back down shortly.”
Only two weeks of school remain in the 2020-2021 school year. Despite the increase of cases, the district is adamant that nothing is changing for the last few weeks of the spring semester – masks remain encouraged but voluntary.
“The district is NOT requiring masks but would ask that we all stay diligent in protecting our health! Don’t let your guard down! Let’s finish this school year strong! We can do this for our kids!”
The variance requested and approved by the Wyoming Department of Health does include a provision permitting the variance to be rescinded if there is an outbreak within the school – more than two cases simultaneously.
“Park County School District #6 will continue to follow isolation and quarantine and other recommendations from public health officials. If transmission levels in Park County increase or an outbreak occur within the school, this exemption request may be revoked by the County or State Health Officer.”
Last week, Governor Gordon extended State Public Health Order #1, mandating masks in all of Wyoming’s educational institutions. If Cody’s variance were rescinded, masks would be required in all school buildings for the next two weeks.
However, there is no indication that Park County Public Health or the Wyoming Department of Health will take any action in light of the district’s surge.