Cody School Mask Variance - 75-77% of Parents Approve

Cody School Mask Variance – 75-77% of Parents Approve

Written by on April 19, 2021

Cody schools may soon ask the state to make faces something that isn’t covered in the K-12 curriculum after receiving considerable input from the community.

As the number of COVID-19 cases declines throughout Wyoming, Park County School District #6 decided to ask the question: is it time for Cody kids and teachers to go maskless?

On April 16, the latest round of statewide health orders went into effect. Orders 1 and 2, in place since last March, went unamended until the end of April.

Order 1 specifically mandates that all students and staff in Wyoming schools wear a face covering and maintain physical distancing at all times. Wyoming schools remain one of the only places in the state where masks are mandatory.

COVID cases in Park County have been on a consistent decline, and the Cody school district has gone without a case for some time. These facts made administrators and the Board of Trustees wonder if it’s time to forgo mandatory masks in Cody’s schools.

A variance is being considered for review and approval from the State of Wyoming. If approved, masks in Cody schools would be voluntary rather than mandatory.

Rather than move forward immediately, the district decided the decision should lie with those most affected: students, their parents, and district staff.

A two-question survey was sent to all parents in the Park County #6 school district on Tuesday, April 13. Parents only had to click yes or no on the question of masks in the school district.

Parents had until Monday to respond to the survey.

On Thursday, April 15, Park County School District No. 6, Superintendent Peg Monteith discussed the survey during “Daybreak with Darian Dudrick.” Monteith says the initial results of the survey were overwhelmingly one-sided.

“What we found in that survey is about 75 to 77 percent of our stakeholders in the community are in favor of asking for a variance. They would like to see kids not have to wear masks to school,” Monteith said, adding the “school staff survey turned out about the same way.”

The survey is on the agenda for the board’s next meeting; tomorrow at 6:00 p.m., Board members will analyze the survey’s results and vote on the resolution.

Even with majority support from the district, a board vote on Tuesday doesn’t mean maskless on Wednesday.

The power to write and request variances lies with the Park County Public Health Officer, Dr. Aaron Billin. He will draft the district’s request and send it to the proper state officials.

Once submitted, the request will be reviewed by State Health Officer Alexia Harrist and the Wyoming Department of Health. They will approve or deny the variance based on the community’s current COVID-19 cases.

As of Monday, April 19, there are 16 active cases in the entirety of Park County. Nine of those cases were in Cody.

Given the request and the COVID climate, it appears there’s a good chance Cody’s students could choose to be mask-free before the end of the most unorthodox school year in recent memory.

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