City schools suspended to April 3

An emergency meeting hosted by the Sweetwater County School District No. 2 Board of Trustees Sunday evening resulted in a decision to close schools across the district.

The decision was made in response to developing information and concerns related to  COVID-19, the novel coronavirus which has continued spreading across the country.

The board unanimously voted to close the district starting Monday to April 3. All 12-month employees of the district will still need to report to work Monday.

“This is kind of an unprecedented thing,” Steve Core, chairman of the board, said at the start of the meeting. He said during the 20 years he has been on the board, he's never had to be involved in an emergency meeting.

In a press release issued Sunday, Gov. Mark Gordon and Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow recommended schools closed through April 3. Before the meeting, districts in Teton and Fremont counties, as well as the district in Cheyenne, had already announced they would close until April 3. 

Leah Kenison, director of food services for the district, said the district’s food services would operate like it does during the summer months, having three schools provide breakfasts and lunches to children. Those schools would be Truman, Washington and Monroe elementary schools. One problem she has is the issue of hosting a gathering of kids as the schools are serving the food. She said the district could host a grab and go lunch using prepackaged foods to give to students, but needs a day to prepare those meals. 

Kenison said the importance of the food program is that it helps feed children who may not have adequate access to food. In Sweetwater County, approximately 2,300 children are food insecure. During the last year, the district served 18,000 meals during a two-and-a-half-month period.

According to Tony Beardsley, activities are also suspended until April 3. This includes practices for spring sports.

Initially, district administrators didn’t believe the virus would impact the school schedule. In a release Friday, Interim Superintendent Jamie Christiansen said schools would continue their normal schedule Monday. He said a meeting between state school and health officials, as well as superintendents throughout the state assessed the situation occurring throughout the state. Christensen said one of the takeaways from that meeting was that the decision to remain open or close would be made at the local level.


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