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Stories, Stats, Impacts: Wyoming Public Media is here to keep you current on the news surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Western Wyoming Community College Is Starting Like "Normal"

Sunset at the Western Wyoming Community College, with sagebrush and red rocks in the foreground.
Western Wyoming Community College

Western Wyoming Community College’s fall semester began yesterday and the college is starting as "normal," according to a press release. This means that classes are in-person, orientation is in-person, and students aren’t required to wear masks.

"We know that our students want to be on campus," College President Kim Dale said. "We know that there is a specific population of students that truly do not want to be in an online learning environment, they want to be here."

But Dale said that things could change as the semester progresses and more restrictions could be implemented if necessary.

"Though the college will start normal, Western's COVID-19 Task Force will emphasize caution to the college community," the press release said. "The COVID-19 Task Force will meet twice a month and may change procedures and processes subject to an influx of case volume on campus."

Since sending out the press release, Dale said that the COVID-19 Task Force has since decided to meet weekly.

Dale said that last fall semester the college followed the direction of Gov. Mark Gordon in regards to COVID-19 but this semester will be trickier because Gordon recently said that he won’t be implementing mask mandates.

"The challenge for us is, as an institution, what are the trigger points? What's the data? When are we going to consider something like a mask mandate and/or a vaccine mandate?" Dale said.

She added that the COVID-19 Task Force is currently figuring out a threshold for how high COVID-19 cases can get before adding more restrictions, like a mask or vaccine mandate.

"Last year, we focused a lot on what was happening in the residence halls, as far as COVID cases. And we think that we need to take a more broad approach to that because we have to consider the number of positive cases in relation to not only our student population, but our employee population as well," Dale said.

The Task Force will update the College's COVID-19 dashboard weekly with the number of students, faculty, and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the press release. The case count on the dashboard comes from self-reported data.

Martha Harris is from Portland, OR and is currently studying journalism at Brigham Young University, with minors in theatre and global women's studies. Martha loves playing rugby, writing, and cheering on the Portland Thorns.
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