The Campbell County School District is still deciding whether to apply for variances to allow limited services to be held at school buildings.
The move follows Gov. Mark Gordon’s announcement last week that allows school districts to make individual proposals about keeping students home through the rest of the school year. But schools can now ask to use their facilities for specific purposes.
The two areas the CCSD is considering applying for variances for are special needs education and for hard-to-reach students at Westwood High School, said Deputy Superintendent Kirby Eisenhauer.
The variances will be put through a three-step approval process. A plan must be approved by school district trustees, the Campbell County Department of Public Health and the Wyoming Department of Education.
Ideas are being reviewed now, including taking temperature readings of students when they enter buildings, sanitizing school areas and maintaining social distancing, Eisenhauer said. But nothing has been decided and likely won’t be until next week.
The two main factors that are giving the CCSD pause are concerns for special needs students who may already health impaired, along with the limited amount of time the variances would be in effect.
“We would have three and a half weeks and by the time we got this in place, how much time would we have to actually provide the service?” Eisenhauer said.
The limited amount of time “might work” for hard-to-reach students at the alternative high school, Eisenhauer said. The main goal would be to allow students to come into the school to pick up things they need to earn credit for grade advancement.
“We don’t want them to become credit deficient because of the situation,” Eisenhauer said.
Considering a variance for special needs students is a little more complicated because some already have underlying health issues.
“Obviously, if the students are health impaired, we need to be extra cautious to make sure that we’re not putting them at greater risk by providing additional services,” Eisenhauer said.
As the CCSD mulls over the merits of variances, a key piece of data it’s trying to collect is how many special needs students would use the additional services if they were offered.
The next priority would be an extended school year (different from summer school) if the district decides not to go forward with a variance for special needs students, Eisenhauer said.
Many of the same students that would have qualified for a variance also qualify for the extended school year, which gives special needs students additional services throughout the summer to make sure they maintain learning levels going into the fall.
Eisenhauer said the district would likely have to file for a separate variance for any changes that would give extra opportunities during the summer.
“We’re looking at this current school year, up to May 22, but it’s probably more likely it would happen over the summer,” Eisenhauer said. “We’re just weighing the risk compared to the reward of what we might be able to accomplish in the time that we have left and looking for opportunities to expand over the summer.”