WCCC closed due to COVID

By: 
Alexis Barker

Alexis Barker

NLJ News Editor

 

The Weston County Children’s Center had to shut its doors  for 14 days after being informed by the Wyoming Department of Health on Sept. 24 that four staff members had tested positive for COVID-19. At the same time, the number of Weston County active cases hit double digits for the first time since the disease was detected in Wyoming just over 200 days ago. 

According to Francie Gregory, children’s center director, the center had decided to close for at least one day, Sept. 24, before the call from the Wyoming Department of Health directing it to be closed until at least Oct. 7, according to a press release from the center. 

“We are obviously saddened by this. Our first thoughts are for our staff members, and we hope they return to health soon. We also sympathize with our kids and their parents, but will obviously follow the directives from the state,” Gregory said in the release. “We appreciate everybody’s patience as we work through this, and we really look forward to getting kids back in their classrooms after this break.”

Gregory reported that the center’s doors would reopen on Oct. 8. She said that, to date, no reported cases among children have been linked to the facility. 

Weston County School District No. 1 announced on Sept. 23 that at least one member of the staff at Newcastle Elementary School was confirmed to have contracted COVID-19. The school reported in a press release that all appropriate actions outlined in its Smart Start Return to School Plan were followed and a number of people who were in contact with the individual were notified of the positive test result. 

The district press release noted that several students would need to be quarantined after contact tracing suggested they were considered close contacts to at least one of the cases at the children’s center. 

“It is hard to strike the balance between the need to respect privacy when it comes to health issues and our responsibility to keep our children and community safe. Because of that, I am unable to provide further details at this time, but I do want the community to know that state health officials have not recommended any further measures need to be taken at this time,” said Superintendent Brad LaCroix. “We were also assured we could continue to hold classes and have children at the elementary school under the guidelines we set up when facilities were re-opened and classes began, so that is what we have done.” 

As of Monday, Sept. 29, Weston County has 11 active, 28 confirmed and eight probable cases, according to the Department of Health. Of those, 17 lab confirmed cases are now recovered, as well as six of the probable cases. 

Some 1,095 tests have been performed on county residents, and the Health Department reports that 1.1% of those tests yielded positive results. Statewide, there have been 4,897 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases and 50 deaths related to the disease. 

“This experience has made us even more vigilant than we were before,” Gregory said. 

Both she and LaCroix explained that it is crucial for the community to remain aware, practice proper social distancing and wear a mask when that is not possible.

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