In a press release sent Thursday night, Northern Wyoming Community College District President Dr. Walter Tribley announced that the district is extending its spring break by two weeks in response to the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. 

Northern Wyoming Community College District’s regularly scheduled spring break is Monday, March 16 through March 19, 2020. That break has been extended through Sunday, April 5. 

"Beginning at the close of business on Friday, March 13, Gillette College, Sheridan College and Sheridan College in Johnson County campuses will be closed to all classes and activities through Sunday, April 5," the statement said. "The District is hopeful that normal operations will commence Monday, April 6. Residence halls will also be closed, with the exception of a few students with extenuating circumstances."

According to Tribley, the extended break will allow NWCCD employees to prepare alternative methods of instruction as needed, assess the severity of the outbreak, and attempt to minimize impacts to local healthcare providers. In addition, in the event that students experience illness, they will have the opportunity to remain home.

“At this time, we are hopeful that a three-week period with most of our campus population off site will help reduce the severity of the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Tribley. “We also hope this move would ultimately help us get back to normal operations sooner rather than later and reduce the impact on local healthcare infrastructure.”

Wyoming confirmed the first case of COVID-19 on March 11 in Sheridan County. On Thursday, the district learned that one faculty member and one student, both on the Sheridan College campus, were asked to self-quarantine by the Sheridan County public health officials due to potential exposure to the virus.

At NWCCD’s Risk Management Team meeting Thursday, Debra Haar, nurse manager for Sheridan County Public Health, agreed with the college’s decision to attempt to minimize the spread of the virus in Wyoming through this measure.

“I commend the District for helping reduce pressure on local healthcare infrastructure by implementing this break,” Harr said.

Tribley emphasized that the District would do everything possible to ensure the safety of faculty, staff and students while remaining committed to the education of students.

“Our core mission is education. We have a commitment to our students to do everything possible to help them reach their educational goals,” said Tribley. “It is clear that our faculty, our student services and our entire staff are being innovative to meet student’s needs.”

The John C. Schiffer School, which operates on the Sheridan College campus, will continue operating from an alternative site

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