SHERIDAN — COVID-19 protocols will remain primarily the same, minus a few quarantine changes, for Sheridan County School District 2 students, staff and faculty.
A press release sent Monday morning, reiterated by Superintendent Scott Stults Monday during SCSD2’s regular board of trustees meeting, indicated COVID-19 test percent positivity rate classified as low, despite positive case surges throughout the country and a high transmission rate throughout Sheridan County.
Monday statistics indicated Sheridan County had nine patients hospitalized with COVID-19, in addition to 138 active cases.
“Based on those factors and ongoing guidance from local health officials, the district will remain consistent with the COVID-19 plan as approved on Nov. 16,” the release said. “The plan will be reviewed again on Monday, Jan. 24.”
Community members continued to express concerns over mask requirements at Monday's meeting, with a set of parents of children in the district sharing they remain anxious every two weeks not knowing if they will choose to pull their children out of SCSD2 because of reimposed mask requirements.
Stults reiterated to community members that all entering SCSD2 buildings have a choice under current COVID-19 protocols — masks are strongly recommended and not required — as has been since the board's decision in November 2021.
Additionally, Stults assured the board he and staff will not begin to discuss vaccine requirements until the U.S. Supreme Court makes a ruling on testimony heard Jan. 7 and the district receives information from the Wyoming Department of Education.
Finally, Stults reiterated COVID-19-related federal funding coming through grants to the schools from WDE have no ties to mask requirements.
"There is absolutely zero connection between money that's received from the federal government and whether school districts choose to have a mask mandate or not," Stults said. "It has nothing to do with face coverings. It has nothing to do with the COVID-19 plan. There are specific parameters that the state and the federal government require."
Those requirements remain available for public viewing on SCSD2's website under its COVID-19 Resources page. Additionally, federal fund grant allocations listed on WDE's website indicate 48 districts received federal COVID-19 relief funds through WDE, and many of them never had mask requirements throughout the district.
Updated quarantine rules per the Wyoming Department of Health now allow individuals who are positive or close contacts have the option of choosing to return to school after five days and wearing a mask for five days — instead of 10 days quarantining at home — as long as symptoms have improved and there is no fever for at least 24 hours. Changes went into effect Monday.