JACKSON (WNE) — In a meeting full of heightened emotion and at times lacking clear medical guidance, school officials ultimately voted to mandate masks in all Teton County public schools.
The mandate, approved unanimously by Teton County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees late Wednesday evening, will require all students and staff to wear face coverings as long as the county remains at elevated risk for COVID-19 transmission.
At the meeting, there was extensive discussion about the county’s color-coded risk tracker. On Aug. 19, Teton County Health Department changed its metrics for that tracker to align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention metrics.
There remains some confusion around which data was used to send Teton County into the red (high) risk level. According to the health department, the main criteria are: new cases, based on a rolling 7-day sum, and percent of positive tests over a 2-week period. Whichever is more severe takes precedent.
At the meeting, board members reasoned that it would only take two new daily COVID-19 cases to keep the county in orange (substantial). Because the schools’ mask mandate will only lift when transmission falls to yellow (moderate) or green (low), some trustees were concerned students would be masking unnecessarily.
That’s a concern shared by about half of the parents who spoke up during public comment. They argued masking should be a parental choice, similar to the mask-optional approach taken by at least 48 other school districts in Wyoming.