UP to members of the Laramie County School District 1 Board of Trustees for finally deciding to do the right thing and instituting an indoor mask mandate in local schools, effective Sept. 9.
Of course, this was the decision that should have been made before the school year began Aug. 23. It shouldn’t have taken more than 250 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases and more than 1,200 mandatory quarantines to force board members to do what the CDC, and state and local health officials had been recommending in the weeks before the start of the school year.
We know, that's easy to say when we're not sitting and facing the angry group of parents who don't believe masks are good for their kids. But although it's an unpaid, often thankless job, we elect school board members to make decisions in the best interest of ALL children in the district, not just those whose guardians make the most noise.
Eventually – hopefully sooner, rather than later – we'll get on top of this pandemic and be able to put away the masks again. Until then, board members and administrators need to stand strong and make the best decisions possible to protect our children, their teachers and other district staff members.
Which leads us to give a ...
DOWN to the Laramie County School District 2 Board of Trustees for failing to do the same thing to protect children living in the rural eastern part of the county.
Yes, the district has fewer students, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less vulnerable to COVID-19. The elected anti-maskers on the board should consider what they will do if a child gets seriously ill or dies as a result of their inaction.
And instead of going out of their way to reject the "half-a-loaf" compromise offered by new Superintendent Justin Pierantoni to require masks on Mondays and Tuesdays only, they should be listening to him and the county health officials who are offering the best ways to keep young children healthy.
DOWN to the fact leaders of the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department feel the need to offer financial incentives to entice people to get a free vaccine that could save their life.
On Sept. 10, health department leaders announced they are offering $100 gift cards to the first 500 people who started getting their COVID-19 vaccinations on or after this past Monday, and who can prove they completed the series two weeks after their last shot.
How shameful is it that some of us have to be bribed into doing the right thing to protect ourselves, our family and our community? And what message does it send to society as a whole? What it says to us is, "If you hold out long enough, we'll reward you for your stubbornness."
We don't blame City-County Health Director Kathy Emmons or Laramie County Health Officer Dr. Stan Hartman for feeling like they've tried everything else – including a drawing earlier this year for Cheyenne Frontier Days night show tickets. We just wish they didn't feel this was necessary.
The bottom line in all of this: It's time to stop making our health care decisions based on politics and start doing what's best for everyone around us – children and adults alike.
UP to Laramie County Library staff, especially Youth and Outreach Services Manager Beth Cook, for voluntarily canceling some youth programs this month and moving others online. This was done to protect those children who aren’t yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and to help prevent further spread of the virus.
Even before the school board voted to require masks indoors, the library had announced it was changing its schedule. Ms. Cook, Librarian Carey Hartmann and others are clearly paying attention and being responsive to current conditions in the community, regardless of how a few people will react, either online or in person.
We appreciate that, and we encourage more local groups to follow their example.
DOWN to members of the Wyoming Legislature's Joint Education Interim Committee who are promoting a flawed effort to financially support students over the age of 24 seeking access to higher education.
As written, the program is called the Education-Wyoming’s Tomorrow Scholarship Program, but as you read the bill, you find out all of the money would have to be repaid – with interest. Excuse us, but doesn’t that make it a loan, not a scholarship?
The idea of giving older students up to $1,500 per academic term is a good one, but either call this program what it is or find the money to truly make it a scholarship. Otherwise, it's nothing but a way for the state to make money from those who are in no position to pay in the first place.