CASPER, WYOMING (September 1, 2021) – The Casper-Natrona County Health Department advises parents and employers to make plans for significant labor shortages as students and children are being quarantined after exposure to positive COVID cases in schools and daycares.
Quarantines had already adversely impacted local daycares in August, and with the start of a new school year, the CNCHD is anticipating a dramatic increase in positive cases and exposures that will keep kids, and thereby their parents, at home during the day. Even though quarantines were commonplace last school year, CNCHD Public Information Officer Hailey Bloom said that families have been caught off-guard this year largely because former COVID mitigation procedures are no longer being implemented. “Unfortunately, quarantining hasn’t gone away just because mandatory masking has,” she said.
Kids being quarantined at home will have community-wide consequences as parents will be unable to go to work and businesses will be unable to find adequate staffing. Health Department officials are predicting that labor shortages will be one of the biggest challenges Casper faces through this COVID wave, and all industries should expect to be impacted over the coming months. Bloom encourages all parents and employers to start planning for these imminent
absences now. “We know how problematic this is going to be for families and businesses, but with case numbers at these staggering rates, it’s inevitable,” Bloom said.
Unless the exposed individual is fully vaccinated (which isn’t available to anyone under the age of 12), quarantine protocols are largely the same as they were last school year. Anyone not fully vaccinated must quarantine at home for 10 days if you were within 6’ of a positive case for more than 15 minutes in the 48 hours prior to the Positive’s first symptoms. If a child is quarantined at home due to exposure but does not show symptoms and does not test positive, other members of the child’s household may resume normal life, including going to work or school. If someone who
is fully vaccinated (two weeks since final dose of any shot) is exposed to a positive case, that individual does not need to quarantine, so long as he or she remains asymptomatic. For more details, visit I’m A Close Contact of a Positive Case.
“At the risk of sounding alarmist, we need the community to understand that, depending on the situation, it’s possible that whole classrooms, grade levels, or even entire schools and daycare facilities could be shut down for weeks at a time,” Bloom said. Any kind of temporary closure will be determined by several factors including the total number of positive cases, physical space and the use of face coverings. “We hope that closures don’t happen, but it’s important that families and business prepare for worst-case scenarios,” she said. Parents should start planning for backup childcare, and employers should make alternate scheduling and work-from-home arrangements whenever possible.
While this is going to be a tough period for our community, adhering to quarantines is imperative for the health of Casper residents and families. The Delta variant is substantially more contagious than previous variants, and younger populations, including school-aged children, are showing more significant symptoms that require hospitalizations. Vaccinations remain the most effective protection against COVID-19, and anyone over the age of 12 is eligible to receive one now. It’s up to all of us to protect each other, especially those who can’t be vaccinated.
To keep parents at work and kids in school, Casper must slow COVID’s rampant spread. Vaccinations, testing and staying home are all critical components of that effort. “Unfortunately, we’d all hoped this school year would be different, but the situation is grim right now,” Bloom said. Vaccinations and testing are both available for free without an appointment at the Casper-Natrona County Health Department, located at 475 S. Spruce Street in downtown Casper. To learn more, visit CasperVCovid.com.