Western’s Board of Trustees Votes to Implement Temporary Face Covering Mandate

Western Wyoming Community College Mustang Statues wearing face coverings

Western Wyoming Community College’s (Western) Board of Trustees held a special meeting last night, August 25, and voted to approve a temporary campus face covering mandate for students, employees, and the public. In addition, the Board of Trustees authorized administration to reinstate on-campus testing of athletes and students living in the residence halls when the College deems appropriate. 

At the meeting, the Board of Trustees heard from Sweetwater County Health Officer, Dr. Jean Stachon, and CEO of Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, Irene Richardson. Richardson expressed that the hospital and staff continue to be strained, and struggle with the high volume of COVID-19 cases. The Board then heard input from students, employees, and community members.  

Sweetwater County is currently operating in the “red” according to the Wyoming Department of Health’s color-coded transmission indicators. There are 541 cases per 100,000 residents with a 12.9% positivity rate. The county currently has about 163 active COVID-19 cases. Memorial Hospital reported that it has administered about 100 COVID-19 tests per day, which is up from about 55 tests per day from last month, and on August 23, they collected swabs from 180 people in five hours.  

Western’s Rock Springs and Green River campus cases are on the rise since the return of students and faculty, with 8 self-reported cases as of today.  

After public discussion, the Board voted to implement a temporary face covering mandate. The mandate is effective immediately and will be in place for 30 days, ending on Friday, September 24, to help address the rising number of positive COVID-19 Delta variant cases in Sweetwater County 

The mandate is in place to protect the College and the community, keep Western’s campus open for in-person instruction, keep athletes competing, and to support in alleviating the strain on the hospital. Face coverings will be required in all areas where social distancing cannot occur, including indoor classrooms, lab and clinical spaces, events, and within college vehicles. 

“We collectively realize this is a unique time in our lives, and while this virus has created debate and stirred emotions, we can all agree that keeping our students and employees safe and our campus open is our priority. I would like to thank all the staff at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, and Sweetwater County Public Health, for their tireless work in keeping our community safe. We recognize what an unbelievably heavy lift this has been for you all,” stated Dr. Kim Dale, President of Western.  

The Trustees asked administration to conduct an anonymous survey of students and employees to help gauge the vaccination rates on campus. Western is partnering with the Sweetwater County Health Department and Memorial Hospital to provide on and off-campus vaccine clinics to encourage vaccinations against COVID-19 and the Delta variant. While vaccines are not mandated by Western, they are encouraged to help keep the College campus open for in-person instruction.  

Students seeking exemptions from class due to COVID-19 can contact Wellbeing and Accessibility at (307) 382-1645 to arrange accommodations, and employees can contact Human Resources at hr@westernwyoming.edu.  Western continues to encourage those who feel unwell to stay home if they are sick.  

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