BRIDGER VALLEY — The coronavirus concern has resulted in the closure of schools in both districts in the Valley.
This follows on the heels of the concern closing down the state tournament last week in Casper. Multiple closure in many walks of life are being reported statewide. Plans were for Uinta County School District 4 to be off this week for spring break and then resume classes next week. Uinta County District 6 was also going to be off the end of the week and hold classes on Monday and Tuesday.
Governor Mark Gordon signed an Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency in Wyoming on March 12 in response to the nationwide coronavirus pandemic. This was also followed by a meeting between the Governor and State Superintendent Jillian Ballow. During last week’s meeting with school superintendents across the state, it was determined Wyoming was a low risk area and school would go on. However, a meeting between the Governor and Ballow Sunday resulted in the two officials determining school should close until April 5. This would give school officials and communities time to develop plans to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
In a post by UC4 Superintendent Jeff Newton at 11 a.m. on Monday March 16, Newton said, “I have participated in another phone conference today with Governor Gordon, Superintendent Balow and State Health Officer Alexia Harrist. Afterwards, I consulted with the board of trustees. We have decided that it is in the best interest of our students that we cancel school through April 5, as recommended by Governor Gordon last night.
“There are still many unanswered questions related to make-up days, food service, special needs students and school funding that I will be clarifying with the WDE throughout this week.. I will keep up updated. Thanks for your support during thise unique times. We will get through this together.”
Last week Damien Smith, Superintendent of Uinta County School District 6 had posted on Thursday, March 12, an assurance to district members that the district was keeping up with developments on the COVID-19 problems. He also noted the district was in contact with the Uinta County Health Department, Wyoming State Health Department and would keep the district up on the coronavirus situation as it evolves.
Smith also posted, “Uinta County School District 6 will continue to take precautionary measures in all of our schools to help ensure the health and safety of your children…We will continue to communicate with you on a regular basis regarding COVID-19, as well as anything that affects the healf and well-being of our students.”
The Lyman District was to hold a meeting Monday morning to determine the next action the district would take on this issue, according to people who work in the district.
On the recommendation of the Gordon and Balow, Smith state in a letter to district families, the district “decided to close all UCSD #6 schools…Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17 through spring break. Decisions about reopening after spring break will depend on how this situation progresses in the coming week. We will communicate to families as soon as we have the necessary information to make future decisions.”
Smith also told district residents…”we will have sack breakfasts and lunches available for those that need them at LIS from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Students can pick them up at the side door of LIS cafeteria.”
The district will also look at setting up online learning capabilities.
As for the governor’s Emergency Declaration, it is a proactive measure and allows the Governor to more quickly activate the Wyoming National Guard in the event it is necessary and also makes state businesses eligible to apply for federal funding from the Small Business Association.