Colter Elementary

Some parents are frustrated because they say they are approaching deadlines regarding school next year and they don’t know whether masks will be required.

Education officials say the deadlines are recommendations or, in one case, nonexistent.

Earlier this month, Teton County School District No. 1 officials sent parents emails regarding registration. They asked parents to register by Tuesday, but the school board isn’t set to vote on whether to mandate masks in schools until Wednesday.

For parents who want to know which coronavirus safety protocols will be in place before deciding, that perceived deadline may cause consternation, especially since the district isn’t offering a virtual option this year. However, it’s not a firm requirement.

“If we know all the students who are going to be coming on the first day, we can have class lists ready, you know, all of those things,” Communications Director Charlotte Reynolds said. “But there’s no required deadline for registering.”

For example, she said, some families don’t register their kids early at all, instead just showing up on the first day, and the district doesn’t turn them away for lack of paperwork.

Some parents have threatened to pull their kids from school if a mask mandate is enacted, saying they will home-school. Jamie Young, who said she spoke on behalf of a group of Moran Elementary School parents, said the district was unfairly making that decision fraught because of an upcoming deadline for home-school registration.

“I don’t appreciate that this upcoming meeting is right before the day that we have to decide whether we home-school or not,” she told the school board Aug. 11. “Why is this mask issue not being decided now? It needs to be because we as parents are deciding whether we’re going to home-school or not.”

Luckily for the Moran parents and others who are undecided, there is no deadline for home-school registration. Linda Finnerty, communications director at the Wyoming Department of Education, said her agency knew of no final day that families had to choose to home-school.

Reynolds confirmed that families could opt for home schooling at any time. The school district had asked parents to communicate their intent to home-school by Friday, but that is not a firm deadline after which families can’t go that route.

“That is simply for our internal planning and preparation efforts,” she said. “There’s no requirement.”

So, for any parents who are the fence and waiting for the mask vote, there’s still time to choose.

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or thallberg@jhnewsandguide.com.

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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