With COVID quarantine numbers continuing to be high early in the school year and 27 students testing positive Friday, the Cody School District implemented a plan that would not mandate masks, but allows students deemed in close contact with a positive individual to remain in school with a mask, as long as they are asymptomatic, for the quarantine period.

At a special board meeting Tuesday night most trustees expressed support for the district administration to further examine the plan ahead and move closer to possible implementation. Friday, interim superintendent Tim Foley sent out a letter to parents informing them the plan would be adopted. As of Friday, 93 students were also in quarantine.

Our school nurses do an excellent job of contact tracing and reaching out to families when an exposure occurs and our teacher provide remote instruction to quarantined students, putting a greater demand on our teachers," he wrote. This approach is not sustainable. If our quarantine numbers continue to increase, the result may be full-time remote education."

 There was no need for the school board to take action to implement the plan.

Trustees all agreed something had to be changed from the current model. The district started the year recommending face masks and requiring all students or staff without a mask or unvaccinated to quarantine if deemed to be in close contact with someone COVID positive. Foley said as of Tuesday night, four staff and 14 students in the district were positive for COVID, while another three staff and 85 students were quarantined.

He said the elementary schools have been hit the hardest, with the quarantines coming in waves, first at Livingston, then higher numbers at Sunset and now at Eastside.

“Our numbers are quite a bit higher now than they were,” Foley said. “The virility of this strain is so much greater, it spreads so much easier, so part of it is that.”

That mirrors the rise of cases and especially hospitalization in Park County, where 17 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 as of Tuesday, and because of the amount of people sick from not just COVID but other issues, Foley said the hospital had two intensive care patients it tried to transfer to a bigger hospital, such as Salt lake City or Denver, but those hospitals did not have the room.

The new option, first developed in Utah, would not mandate masks, but give any student with close contact with a COVID positive person but no symptoms a choice to either quarantine for 10 days or wear a mask for 10 days and continue to attend school as long as they are not displaying symptoms.

The talk came a day after the close of a survey given to all elementary school parents. Foley said the reason to focus on elementary parents is virtually no elementary school children are old enough to get a vaccine, while the vast majority of middle and high school students are eligible. While 54% of elementary school parents surveyed supported the idea of their students wearing masks to avoid quarantine, 66% also support the matter being left up to personal choice as opposed to mandating all students wearing masks.

The vast majority of elementary school teachers supported masks to avoid quarantines and most supported all students being required to wear masks.

Chair Brandi Nelson said this issue was falling on administrations to make decisions because the state and local elected health officials had decided against doing orders or mandates as had been done last year.

“Everybody medical has taken their hands from it, said elected officials can make the decision,” she said. “It almost has become this administrative, school district function. It’s frustrating.”

There was some pushback by trustees, including Jessica Case.

“Almost everybody that gives info is telling us to mask, test,” she said. “We’re bending over backwards to not do the guidance given to us.”

Trustee Sheri Schutzman countered that public comment last year had included many elementary school parents worried about students not being able to see faces.

(13) comments

Scott Conger

Matt, the article was retracted by JAMA for the following reasons: the device used to measure CO2 was for infant incubators (not masks), because the guy measuring was not an epidemiologist, for the fact that "there are credible studies refuting the conclusions" and finally, that no group of children had ever complained of problems before this study. Bottom line is that there are no "mask test CO2 measuring devices" and the incubator monitor was a convenient and repeatable method of measuring CO2 in extremely confined spaces; the guy doing the measuring has years of experience with the exact device used and just as astronauts are pretty special folks, no astronaut however, has ever built a space ship... we rely on technical experts to run machines that they are trained to use. It is folly to reject the measurements (which ones, the measurements of ambient air, or the measurements inside the mask? Were they all wrong?) simply due to an epidemiologist not taking the measurements, and frankly I doubt that many if any could actually do so. As far as the "study" that they said refuted the findings, it was this: a test where 25 of 28 requested people agreed to be tested; all were over the age of 75...those elderly adults did not have problems with CO2 related to the masks for the hour duration they wore them. The study admitted that it had limitations due to the small sample size, the age of the participants and the lack of physical exertion. Those oldsters were used to refute the fact that young children could possibly have high CO2 levels. As for "no other children reporting problems", this "study" was used to refute the results of German polling of school age children which showed approximately 68% of 26,000 children complained of difficulties which was the driver of the test. That's a mighty big group of kids complaining, when officials say that no such group exists...The article which was retracted was a test in which showed that of 45 children tested, they all had documented instances of CO2 levels exceeding safe levels. Yes, this article was retracted, but the results cannot be debunked or explained away...further it is laughable that the "proof" that there is no problem is based on a far more flawed test, of individuals who at the age of 75 are pretty much not school age, and who's activity level could most fairly be described as "sedentary", and finally, who's total test subjects numbered at 1/2 of the test subjects for school age children, which was "dinged" for being "too small to be statistically significant". If 45 test subjects is "too small", how is it that a test of 25 subjects is not? That retraction was politically driven, not scientifically driven, and to believe that a test had 100% invalid data because an article describing it was retracted, is either intellectually lazy or just being incredibly gullible.

Matt Winslow

Ok, well, if one is going to take a position contrary to the overwhelming professional consensus of the medical field, that person bears the burden of coming forward with proof to support the position. So far I am seeing an outlier internet video, and a research letter that was retracted 16 days after publication as a result of the peer review process. I will leave it to others to decide where intellectual laziness and gullibility may lie.

Charles Johnson

I hope you realize that the fact that the best evidence you can point to is a retracted article Is a red flag. If the effects are as strong as you believe, anyone should be able demonstrate a clearly measurable effect in a manner that can be repeated by other separate scientists. Using a sensor far a measurement it wasn't designed for and not even measuring the children's blood oxygen levels shows that the peer review process worked when it had this paper retracted. If the effect were real, they could have gone back and easily reproduced their results. The fact that they haven't speaks volumes

Mike Johnson

47 studies confirm ineffectiveness of masks for COVID and 32 more confirm their negative health effects:

Pete Demoney

This is called confirmation bias, Mike. It's a logical fallacy.

Mike Johnson

Incentifying children to cause their own brain damage has no role in education. This mask insanity has to stop.

Here is the damning medical evidence from a Neurologist:

Matt Winslow

Actually the studies find that wearing a mask does not limit oxygen intake or increase carbon dioxide in our breath. The thing is, if you dig around the bowels of the internet, you can find a crank supporting any position. If a person has questions about whether wearing a mask is safe for their child, why not ask the child’s pediatrician? Strangers on the internet seem to be a remarkably poor source of information for addressing our children’s healthcare needs.

Mitch Asay

Check the science, not our officials. Also check the law no one mandate mask except for our legislatures our principal our superintendent or Governor our nobody can but our legislator check the law

Mitch Asay

You of all people should know better that you cannot enact any mandate amongst anybody except for the legislature the president can't do it or Governor can't and surely enough an attorney can't but the attorney should know the law Plus show me the scientific facts Mr Winslow that mask are safe for our children

Mitch Asay

As a attorney, you should be able to obtain scientific evidence that face mask work for the covid-19 virus Mr Winslow you can't do it

Charles Johnson

This is just a random article.... I'd challenge you to actually find a peer reviewed scientific article that backs up your claim.

Scott Conger


Like maybe, this clinical randomized trial sited in the Journal of the American Medical Association ?

They concluded in part "A recent review concluded that there was ample evidence for adverse effects of wearing such masks". Notably, the LOWEST level of CO2 found in children was 3X the maximum limit of .02% by volume.

I don't see how this finding conflicts with the Neurologist who is PREDICTING neurological trouble in the future for SOME children thus masked. We are doing things and subjecting adults and children alike, to things which have never been done before. We are rejecting science when it shows a build-up of CO2 while wearing a mask, and simply blow that off as "tough-noogies" all the way to now declaring (for the first time in human-kind's existence) that natural immunity from already having been infected with a virus is now less effective than a vaccine which will not necessarily keep you healthy, nor keep you from getting or spreading the disease, We are rejecting science when we do not accept naturally acquired immunity and threaten people with job loss for not taking the jab, after having acquired said immunity.

It's nuts...probably because it's unscientific.

Matt Winslow

@Scott, the research letter your reference was retracted by the publisher on July 16, 2021.

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