Editor's note: An exception to the 350-word limit has been made for the following letter.

The front-page article in the Jan. 12 WTE about the decision by LCSD1 to drop its face mask protocol requires clarification.

The fourth paragraph says, in part, that “the decision (to discontinue face masks and quarantine processes) was made in consultation with the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department, and followed new guidelines provided by the Wyoming Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” Regarding the decision to drop the mask protocol, this is misleading.

It is true that LCSD1 consulted with the state and county public health. State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist and we participated in a live work session with the LCSD1 Board of Trustees on Jan. 4. At that time, we were clear in explicitly recommending continuation of the existing mask protocol at this time, especially given the rapid spread of the omicron variant.

A subsequent email was also sent to entire board on Monday, Jan. 10, outlining significant increases in the number of positive school-age children in the county during the previous week (173% increase in seven days). In that email, it was made very clear again that the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department was formally recommending continuation of mask protocols.

The CDC did release new, shortened isolation and quarantine guidelines for K-12 schools, and we acknowledge that any change in recommendations can be disruptive and lead to uncertainty. However, the CDC continues to recommend universal indoor masking by all (with some exceptions) students, staff, teachers and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. The CDC also continues to recommend contact tracing and isolation and quarantine measures in K-12 schools. The Wyoming Department of Health also endorses these recommendations. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/k-12-guidance.html#mask-use)

The CDC provides a significant amount of information about its medically sound, evidence-based recommendations on this page: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/science-and-research.html.

Like all school boards, the LCSD1 trustees have full purview to approve policies in their district, including health protocols. The Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department and the Wyoming Department of Health function as advisers and consultants. However, the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department emphasized both during the work session and in a subsequent email that we continue to recommend masking in indoor settings, including schools. The Board’s decision was its own, and not endorsed by either the state or county health departments.

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