The Cody School Board is asking parents and guardians of elementary students to take a survey regarding students wearing masks during the school day.

“The Board of Trustees’ primary goal is to keep students in school and safe,” the Thursday email says in part.

District schools started the school year the same way they finished in the spring, recommending but not requiring masks.

According to the email, trustees are now worried about students being quarantined numerous times due to being in close contact (less than 6 feet for more than 15 minutes without a mask) with someone who is COVID positive.

The rising number of cases in Park County has affected the school district as well. As of Thursday, interim superintendent Tim Foley said 64 staff and students were quarantined, with 10 having tested positive. The elementary schools have been impacted the most, with 48 elementary school students/teachers quarantined and seven positive. The numbers are mostly students.

“We are concerned this will result in a ‘revolving quarantine’ as exposed students are sent home for 14 days only to be exposed and quarantined again after returning to school,” the trustees wrote. “The danger is that widespread student and staff quarantines will close our schools.”

All parents and guardians of elementary school students received email, text and automated calls regarding the survey, which asks whether parents would want all elementary school students to wear masks in schools and on buses or would prefer to leave it to personal choice, as it is now. The deadline to submit answers is Monday.

In August, the Park County GOP Central Committee passed a resolution stating it does not support school boards within the county implementing mask mandates for K-12 public education.

Gov. Mark Gordon stressed Wednesday that he will not be issuing a statewide or K-12 mask mandate he did last year. 

While most school districts in the state also started with masks optional, a handful, including in Jackson, Sheridan and Laramie, require masks.

In Thermopolis, the district had to transition school online after an outbreak quarantined a large number of students and staff.

In Lovell, after 80 students and employees were quarantined in the first week of school, Big Horn County School District No. 2 opted in an emergency meeting Saturday to make quarantining optional when a student is determined to have been in close contact with a positive COVID-19 case.

The Wyoming Department of Health recommends that close contacts quarantine for 14 days after exposure. Those without symptoms after 10 days can end quarantine on day 11, while those who have a negative test on day five or later can end the quarantine after seven days.

(Wyoming News Exchange contributed to this report)

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