Schools wrestle with COVID

Posted 9/2/21

The Park County School District has had two positive cases of COVID  after the first day of fall classes, which resulted in about 30 quarantines, according to Superintendent Jay …

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Schools wrestle with COVID

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The Park County School District has had two positive cases of COVID  after the first day of fall classes, which resulted in about 30 quarantines, according to Superintendent Jay Curtis. 

The unofficial numbers, Curtis said, were not entirely surprising. 

“When you concentrate 1,800 students and 350 staff in one place, you’re going to have quarantines,” Curtis said.

The school nurses and teachers have been helping with contact tracing so that any students exposed to the positive cases can be notified. One of the cases was at Powell Middle School, which resulted in 13 quarantines. 

Curtis said, of those 13 students who were exposed, 12 have tested negative after seven days of quarantine. Those students can now leave quarantine. 

“We’re evaluating what that means,” Curtis said. 

The fact they didn’t have more positive cases among the students was encouraging, Curtis explained, and the district will continue monitoring cases as the school year progresses to better understand how the disease might spread this year. 

Curtis added that the goal is to, as much as safely possible, keep kids out of quarantine and in school. 

Hot Springs County District No. 1 in Thermopolis announced Tuesday that, due to a rising number of COVID-19 infections, it was switching to digital instruction and putting all activities on hold until Sept. 13.

“It is disappointing to be in a digital instruction period this early in the school year, but unfortunately numbers of students and staff infected with COVID-19 or under quarantine orders has reached the threshold of needed separation,” Superintendent Dustin Hunt wrote in a letter to parents. He noted that health officials recommend masking and vaccinations, but that both remain personal choices.

“Without a state order in place, it is not feasible to ask our students and staff to do something at school that our community as a whole will not do in public,” Hunt wrote.

In Park County,  the number of active confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 within the county held steady between Aug. 25 and Wednesday, with 160 people likely infected. On Wednesday afternoon, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 fell from 13 to 12. Cody Regional Health reported caring for nine such patients on Tuesday, while Powell Valley Healthcare had three COVID patients.

Across the state, however, the number of hospitalizations continues to rise, with 194 patients as of Tuesday.

The Wyoming Department of Health announced Tuesday that a 38th Park County resident died in connection with COVID-19. The woman, who died in August, “was hospitalized in another state and had health conditions known to put patients at higher risk of serious illness,” the department said. The deaths have come among more than 3,400 confirmed and probable cases detected in Park County since March 2020.

Kevin Killough contributed to this report.

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