The “vast majority” of the 2,000-plus employees of the Natrona County School District will be paid regularly over the next few weeks as the district’s schools close in an effort to blunt the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Tanya Southerland, the school district’s spokeswoman, said at a press conference Tuesday that all “benefited” employees will be paid as normal. She said afterward she didn’t know specifically which employees wouldn’t qualify. She described the employees whose pay is up in the air as a “handful” of workers.
Southerland also said the district will not extend its semester to make up for time lost over the next three weeks when the district will be closed. Gov. Mark Gordon recommended all of the state’s K-12 schools be closed through early April as the novel coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, continues to spread across the state and country. Most school districts have complied with that recommendation.
When snowstorms have forced the district to close schools in the past — including earlier this year — the district has extended its semesters by a day or two.
The district also plans to hold its graduation ceremonies as scheduled, though it acknowledged the situation continues to change quickly.
District staffers are expected to report for work Wednesday, though Southerland said the majority of that work will be done remotely. Staffers are generally advised to get in touch with their supervisors for marching orders.
It remains unclear if the district will provide any services to its homeless and special education students; those two groups receive services, including meals and therapies, through the district. Southerland said that administrators, who’ve been working nonstop for more than a day now, are still trying to figure out some of the details. It’s also unclear if the district will pursue any virtual education.
After the district announced Sunday night that it would close schools through the first week of April, Southerland put out a statement saying that the anyone who’s 18 years old or younger can pick up a meal from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., from Monday through Friday, until school starts back up again.
In Laramie County School District No. 1, the state’s largest district, Superintendent Boyd Brown said administrators have also set up a meal program, serving roughly 2,200 on Tuesday alone. He said some academic work, remedial work and other materials have been sent to students, but the district isn’t distributing any new material that will be graded.
He said the district is hoping that it won’t have to extend its semester. He said his staffers would all be paid during the closure, though they may also have to work at the end of the semester if the district has to extend its academic year.
As of Tuesday evening, 11 people in Wyoming are known to have contracted COVID-19, a respiratory illness that presents with cough, fever and shortness of breath. Eight of those cases are all tied to an assisted-living facility in Lander. The other two cases, both in Sheridan County, are connected to one another.
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