Superintendent Balow expects all 'Smart Start' plans approved this week - Cheyenne, WY Cap City News
Cap City News Logo

Superintendent Balow expects all ‘Smart Start’ plans approved this week

Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow (Wyoming PBS YouTube)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow offered a bit of optimism during Governor Gordon’s August 12th live press briefing by saying she expected to have approved every school district in Wyoming’s Start Smart” plan by weeks end.

“I am happy to report as of today we have half of the districts approved and I anticipate having the rest of the districts approved by the end of this week,” Balow said.

Balow said this was an important step because it will help put each school district and community in the best possible position to “navigate the many challenges that we will undoubtedly face this year.”

Article continues below...

She added that she was encouraged by the efforts of district officials, school principals and families across Wyoming to help ensure the safety of students and teachers.

Balow said that most school districts would begin the year in Tier One of the Smart Start guide. According to Balow, Tier One is described as regular school operations with some modifications.

She cautioned that in-person instruction this fall was going to look much different than it did before the COVID-19 pandemic began last March.

“Current and new state health orders, as well as local orders, at a minimum require that students are social distancing at a distance of six feet or more. And when that can’t be maintained, students and staff and other visitors are wearing face coverings,” Balow said.

She said that districts were working hard to reconfigure their school space to help students to comply with health guidelines during in-person instruction.

Balow took a moment during her remarks to thank Ron Laird, the director of the Wyoming High School Activities Association for their efforts to help maintain the health of the high school coaches and student-athletes as fall sports have started across much the state.

She concluded her remarks by stating she thought Wyoming schools were in a “good place” but that there would likely be course-corrections, challenges and other innovations that may need to be considered in the future as district officials deal with the pandemic.

“I ask that everyone in Wyoming to be a partner with their school district and keep the lines of communication open and to help navigate this environment,” Balow stated.

The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:

What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.

If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.

Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.

For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email:

  • Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.