“What is the cause of all the confusion, the squabbles, the disagreements – it is really the lack of goal setting,” Joseph G. Allen, Harvard University expert on maintaining health inside buildings, including schools. “Zero Covid in schools? Well, it can’t be possible.”
where masks are scarce
Homecoming Dance has been cancelled. So do athletic events.
But Wyoming, a deeply conservative state, has taken a mostly hands-on approach to schools this fall, despite having one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. Almost every county is facing an extremely high risk of infection.
The state has recommended masks, and in the absence of masks, vaccinated students have been left without exposure to the virus. But local school boards are calling the shots. And the majority has opted not to wear a mask.
In Natrona County, where masks are optional, 693 students – about 5 percent – were housed between September 11 and September 24. And in Sweetwater County School District 1, another facade-optional district, there were 4 percent students and 5 percent students. Employees have tested positive for the virus since the start of the school year, although the number of cases has declined over the past week.
Although Sweetwater doesn’t conduct in-school testing, infection rates are relatively high compared to some heavily vaccinated areas with routine surveillance testing, which have shown a school positivity rate of less than 1 percent this fall.
Some state school boards are trying to encourage vaccination. Campbell County is offering $300 to staff members who get vaccinated by December 1 and additional sick leave to vaccinated teachers who contract success cases. But the incentives have been divisive.
Despite everything, Wyoming’s classes are just as full as last year.
Nicole Bolton, human resources director at Sweetwater, said she did not have data on how many students have dropped out of school because of the virus. But day by day, she noted, it didn’t seem like many students were absent.