Teton County Schools to Start the Year Masked Up

The Teton County School Board voted Wednesday to require face coverings for all students and staff as long as the county falls within the Red (High) or Orange (Moderate) risk levels for COVID-19.
The board's decision comes after passionate public testimony from parents, teachers and students over the past few weeks. (Prostock-Studio/Shutterstock)

by | Aug 26, 2021 | Education

It’s official: Teton County’s K-12 public school students and staff will be required to wear masks at the start of the year, following a special meeting of the local school board Wednesday evening. Discussions between board members over the details of the face covering mandate are likely to continue in the coming weeks in advance of another meeting on Sept. 8.

The decision comes after many members of the public gave passionate testimony on both sides of the debate. Many anti-mask speakers asked to allow parents to make their own decision about whether or not their children should wear face coverings. Meanwhile, several public health officials, including a nurse at St. John’s Medical Center, asked for near-universal mask wearing, as hospital staff currently feel overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. Written public comments were overwhelmingly supportive of masking requirements.

Following public discussion, the school board quibbled over the exact language of the mask mandate. What passed in a unanimous vote, and what’s currently on the books, is a universal requirement based on Teton County’s COVID-19 risk level as determined by metrics designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No exceptions for parents.

If the county falls within the Red (High) or Orange (Moderate) risk level, face coverings will be mandatory. Yellow (Low) or Green (Normal) will mean that masks are recommended. However, those standards could change at a meeting a couple of weeks from now, and the language surrounding how vaccinations could affect mask mandates may be updated as well.

KHOL live-tweeted Wednesday’s board meeting and will carry more coverage from the meeting in the coming days.

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About Will Walkey

Will is KHOL's first full-time reporter and producer. Originally from Tacoma, Washington, he recently graduated from Columbia University with a Master's Degree in journalism. He likes to read and write about housing, local politics, and history, and spends most of his free time fishing or biking. He's excited to be living in Wyoming, and looks forward to honing in on his unique radio voice by highlighting the locals that make Jackson special. Contact Will with tips at will@jhcr.org, and follow him on Twitter at @WillWalkey.

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