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Sheridan County School District 3 Superintendent Charles Auzqui mentioned a funding ask from the state's leftover CARES Act funding, which will maintain technological infrastructure put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

CLEARMONT — To prepare for announcements in the Sheridan County School District 3 Board of Trustees meeting, Superintendent Charles Auzqui played a video about changing technology, showing people are more connected than ever.

With all the technological advances in a small school prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic causing virtual learning last spring, Auzqui reiterated he believes in brick-and-mortar teaching and learning.

“Technology is critical to what we’re doing and we’re pushing that envelope for a small school district, but the reality is that we also have to remember is that some of these things have to do with work ethic and other things we’re working on,” Auzqui said, referencing human nature and work ethic mentioned in the video.

With money requested to implement telehealth operations in Clearmont and advanced technology being implemented, Auzqui knows in-person learning is most effective.

“That technology isn’t going to change what we do and why we teach kids in brick and mortar. It just can’t. That human nature thing can’t go away, and that’s why I’m a strong believer in brick and mortar and not virtual learning,” Auzqui said.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon has Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act money to spend and sent out requests from schools for items still needed. SCSD3 received around $170,000 already to implement virtual learning technology and camera and microphone systems throughout the school, which also benefits virtual board meetings via Facebook Live.

In the new ask, Auzqui requested close to $400,000 of potential CARES Act funds to support the infrastructure currently in place.

“I don’t want to add more to our teachers, I don’t want to add more to what we’re doing,” Auzqui said.

All requests would help maintain infrastructure and add small pieces to help with the functionality of the technology installed due to COVID-19. Vice-chair Barry Bauer asked post-COVID-19 if all this equipment would still be beneficial. Post-COVID-19 needs, Auzqui said all infrastructure currently in place and asked for with these potential future funds are beneficial for teaching and learning beyond the pandemic.

“COVID or no COVID, everything I’ve talked about here is going to benefit our kids, it’s going to benefit remote learning,” Auzqui said. “The camera systems, this just helps support it more long term, so absolutely.”

Camera systems would receive an upgrade where facial recognition implementation in camera systems would help administration identify who was next to a child in case of contact tracing due to a COVID-19 positive test result.

In addition to small managerial changes to technology, Auzqui said he requested one tele-health cart to be used by the school and, if needed, the community. Currently, SCSD3 does not employ a licensed nurse, so the tele-health option would fill the place of that, connecting with someone in Sheridan to provide those services outside of taking vitals.

“I would like to branch out to the community and for the community to have opportunities to try (tele-health),” Auzqui said. “We have an aging community here that maybe we can do something through the town to help those people, too, so they’re not traveling so much when we’re going through that.”

The request is out and Auzqui mentioned no set date for response on those funds.

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