Western combats COVID-19 with mask order, clinics
September 23, 2021
Since starting the fall semester, Western Wyoming Community College has made efforts to hold a mostly-normal semester while responding to the rising numbers of COVID-19 in the community and encouraging everyone to do their part to stop the spread.
One way the college is encouraging people to be active in stopping further spread of the virus is by holding open vaccination clinics.
“The reason for this is that as a college we want to provide an opportunity for our students and our employees and any community members on campus to be able to receive the vaccination,” Dean of Students Dustin Conover said.
The first clinic on Sept. 7 was very successful according to Conover, with 28 individuals receiving the vaccine. That clinic was hosted in partnership with nurses from Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County. Ten more individuals were vaccinated over the next two clinics on Sept. 14 and 16, which were hosted in partnership with Sweetwater County Community Nursing.
Additional clinics took place on campus this week, with another is planned for Sept. 28. Those who received their first dose of the vaccine at the first clinic can return on the 28th to get their second dose. First doses will also be available during the clinic.
Although no clinics are specifically planned beyond the end of the month, more will be held if there is enough interest.
“If we continue to have people show up for these vaccination clinics, then we’ll keep going,” Conover said. If it gets to a point where there is no longer interest in the clinics, continuing to hold them will be reevaluated so the time of the nurses isn’t wasted, according to Conover.
While the clinics were started to give Western students and employees the option of getting vaccinated, they are also open to all community residents.
“We just want to provide an additional resource to anybody in our community to get it done here on campus,” Conover said. He’s also heard from several students who participated in the clinics that they appreciated the convenience of being able to get the vaccine at the school, particularly students who live in campus housing and may or may not have had transportation to get to the hospital or somewhere else to get it.
In addition to encouraging and enabling people to get vaccinated, Western has been keeping an eye on cases of COVID-19 as they go through the semester.
“We’ve been able to control our cases pretty well,” Conover said, noting that the most positive cases the college had at one time was 11, and the numbers have been as low as only one positive case at another time. The number of positive cases on campus is updated weekly, and can be found on Western’s website.
Conover believes the low numbers of positive cases the past few weeks have been due, at least in part, to the implementation of a mask mandate on campus. The college’s board of trustees approved a 30-day mask mandate during a special meeting Aug. 25. After the mandate was put into effect, Western saw a decrease in case numbers, according to Conover. The mask mandate was set to expire Friday, but the trustees extended the mask mandate during a special meeting on Tuesday night. Masks will now be required until Oct. 19.
Students have been generally understanding and receptive of the COVID-19 precautions Western has put in place this semester, according to Conover.
Although no one enjoys wearing a mask, it’s better than students not being able to take the in-person classes they signed up for, he said.
“I think that our students recognize and appreciate that the college is being proactive in trying to keep the COVID positive case number as low as possible,” Conover said. “If our numbers get too high, then that could be justification for additional mandates leading up to potential closure of campus and going 100% online, and none of our students and none of our employees want to get to that point.”
Western is currently nowhere near the point of having to consider shutting down, Conover said, but the college as an institution is doing everything it can to keep things as normal as possible for the students.