Quarantined students in the Cody School District will have the opportunity to potentially return to school sooner than the typical 14 days of quarantine thanks in part to the district’s acquiring 1,000 vault tests from the U.S. Department of Health.

The district also hired a part-time nurse to help with contact tracing in the schools, lifting the burden off the full- time nurses at the schools.

“We applied for a grant through the Wyoming Department of Health,” District HR director Chynna Singer said. “We noticed the load our school nurses have with in-school COVID-19 contact tracing and spoke with other districts around the state who were applying for the grant.”

Annette Bollinger has begun her transition from substitute nurse for the district to part time, in-school contact tracer.

“She has already been with us for a long time,” Singer said. “She is going to be very beneficial. Our school nurses were busy enough with other medical conditions with students. COVID-19 has put a bigger workload on them.”

The numbers of students having to quarantine continue to be relatively low compared to many other districts in the state, and staff plan to keep it that way in part due to the extra testing emphasis.

Bollinger’s duties will also include helping to administer tests as well as a registered nurse.

Vault tests can be administered five days after exposure and sent off for testing. If the test comes back negative the student or staff member can return after seven days if he or she is asymptomatic.

“We opted to get vault tests so that we can send home packets for parents if their child has had some kind of exposure, and potentially get them back to school sooner,” Singer said. “Our number one priority is keeping our students in school and keeping our teachers and staff members safe.”

The grant covers the salary for school contact tracers throughout the year.

If COVID-19 persists, the district will have the opportunity to reapply.

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