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

University of Wyoming Trustees extend mask mandate

Stone building that is Old Main at the University of Wyoming
Old Main by thecoldmidwest is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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Due to concerns about the Omicron variant, the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees voted to extend the campus mask mandate until February.

The trustees also agreed to the UW administration's plan to require a COVID-19 test before the start of the semester.

A handful of trustees argued for ending the mandate by Jan. 1, saying that it impacted students' quality of life. That was a proposal supported by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. Balow noted that school districts have virtually all eliminated, or plan to remove their mask mandates. She added that few businesses still have mask requirements. Balow told the trustees that the number of people on campus with COVID-19 is low and there's a vaccine and a new therapeutic drug is on the way.

But many were concerned that they'd have to reinstate the mandate in a few weeks if surveillance testing revealed a number of positive cases. Rock Springs Trustee Laura Schmid-Pizzato admitted she understood the frustration but preferred a conservative approach.

"We are all tired of this, we all want it to go away. But right now is the time that the data, the actual factual data internationally is showing us we’re not done," She said.

Schmid-Pizzato added that by February they'll have good data to make the best decision. Student body President Hunter Swilling said the most important thing is keeping numbers in check so that students can take classes in person.

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