Across Wyoming, students are returning to schools armed with masks, hand sanitizer, and the knowledge that their next day in class might be taught from a screen. In most districts teachers, staff and administration are determined to provide their students' education face-to-face.
Charles Auzqui, Superintendent of Sheridan County School District #3, welcomed students back last week. He said the human connection is key.
"We've done all the precautions necessary to try to prevent the spread of COVID, and you know, that's a comforting thing," said Auzqui.
Precautions include the use of masks, suspending the use of the cafeteria salad bar, and more cleaning.
"The increased amount of sanitization we're doing throughout the school [is] not impacting, right now, our educational process," said Auzqui. "That's a reason we're so excited; we've actually been able to move through it fairly seamlessly."
Since resuming classes, Auzqui said there have been no new cases of COVID-19 or COVID-like symptoms among students.
Dicky Shanor, the Wyoming Department of Education's Chief of Staff, affirmed the same for the state. He said no new cases of the virus have been associated with reopening schools throughout Wyoming.
The Casper Star-Tribune reported that a high school student tested positive for COVID-19 in Torrington. School administrators told the Star-Tribune they do not believe the student was exposed to the virus at school.
As of Monday, 30 of Wyoming's 48 districts had begun their school year, with three districts on the Wind River Reservation — Fremont 38, 21, and 14 — resuming school online.
The remaining 18 school districts around Wyoming are set to open in the coming days and weeks. According to data from the Wyoming Department of Health, the average number of cases has increased over the last two weeks but Shanor said he's feeling confident in the districts' plans.
"Our process has been very robust getting to where we are today in terms of having school be able to reopen for that in-person instruction," said Shanor. "Everybody has really come to the table and planned appropriately for this time period."