LOVELL (WNE) — After 80 students and employees were quarantined in the first week of school, Big Horn County School District No. 2 opted in an emergency meeting Saturday to make quarantining optional when a student is determined to have been in close contact with a positive COVID-19 case. 

“The board took no formal action at this time; however, the new directive will be to give the parents choice when their child is designated as a close contact instead of mandating quarantine,” the minutes from Saturday’s meeting state. 

The Wyoming Department of Health recommends that close contacts quarantine for 14 days after exposure. Those without symptoms after ten days can end quarantine on day 11, while those who have a negative test on day five or later can end the quarantine after seven days.

According to Lovell Superintendent Doug Hazen, 60 of those quarantine cases, which span across all three buildings in the district, originated from just three

COVID-19 cases within the school district. 

Due to an optional mask policy in place this year, contact tracing procedures, which are identical to what were conducted last year, have caused a large number of quarantines in the district.

The board of trustees elected to continue working through established protocol in response to a positive test but prioritize freedom of choice in close contact situations.

Kim Deti, spokesperson for the Wyoming Department of Health, said the district’s new directive is “absolutely inconsistent” with the department’s recommendations.

Deti said quarantine and isolation orders are still in place, and it is the school district’s role to enforce them.

“We are sharing and encouraging that Department of Health recommendations are taken,” Hazen said, “but we do not feel it is our place to enforce health orders. That falls to the county and the state.”

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