Cody Schools – Where Do You Still Need To Wear A Mask?
Written by Andrew-Rossi on April 26, 2021
The State of Wyoming approved a mask variance for all Cody schools – but students, staff, and visitors still need to wear masks in certain spaces and places.
Cody students and teachers can now choose to go to class without a mask. Park County Public Health Officer Dr. Aaron Billin announced the variance, requested by the Park County School District #6 Board of Trustees, was approved by the state on Friday, April 23.
“The School Board of Park County School District #6 has requested an exception to State Public Health Order #1 that allows PCSD #6 to make mask-wearing in school OPTIONAL. At the request of the School Board – this applies to mask use during the school day in school buildings and classroom settings and not to sporting events and other activities such as band concerts.”
The Cody school board voted unanimously to request the variance on Tuesday, April 20. A community survey showed 72% of district staff and 78% of parents and other community members approved the request.
According to Dr. Billin, the variance was approved by Park County Public Health on Thursday, April 22. The state-approved the request the next day.
Effective Monday, April 26, Cody’s students and staff are no longer required to wear masks in classrooms, through the halls, and anywhere in school buildings. It’s the first time since August 2020 that students will see each other’s entire faces during school.
However, masks are not entirely abolished in Cody schools. Masks will still be needed and worn on buses, during sports, and graduation – depending on the venue.
There is a federal public health order requiring masks on all public transportation. As the Wyoming Department of Health does not have the authority to grant exemptions to federal orders, school bus riders will still need to mask up.
When it comes to sports, the district “will continue to follow guidance from the Wyoming High School Activities Association for sports and activities.” Changes to those public events will come from a statewide health order amendment, not the district.
Then there’s graduation . . .
While the district has been granted a variance for Public Health Order #1, Public Health Order #2 remains intact. This order dictates masks and social distancing for large indoor events.
The district is already planning high school graduation on Spike Vannoy Field on Saturday, May 29. If held outdoors, masks would be optional.
However, if bad weather forces the event indoors, it will be held at the Sweitzer Gym. An indoor graduation ceremony would make masks mandatory.
Furthermore, according to the approved variance request:
“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.”
The variance also accommodates any students and staff who are uncomfortable working in a mask-free building. The district is “prepared to accommodate” anyone who chooses to stop going to school in person due to isolation, quarantine, or risk of infection.
The county and the district still encourage everyone to wear masks in Cody’s schools. But now, it’s a request. Not an order.