Casper college and Saint Anthony’s close before Thanksgiving Break

As cases of Covid-19 continue to rise, some schools in Casper take drastic measures. Casper College has both closed down due to concerns about Covid-19.  Though the closure for Casper College will be temporary, it is unclear how long Saint Anthony’s will be closed.  

Casper College is closed for the remainder of the semester (two weeks).  According to the October 21 Campus update, there are four main reasons to do this: to assist local health providers and agencies, to relax density in our residence hall, to increase peace of mind, and to help with public perception. 

The update states, “Local health services are being stretched thin due to the recent increase in COVID cases.  Reducing the density of in-person classes will help ensure our campus does not contribute to those increasing pressures.”  In the week of November 13th there were 64 active cases and 46 new cases of Covid-19 at Casper college. Out of the 46 new cases, about 38 of those were students. Since, according to Community College Review, Casper College serves on average 4,253 students, this means that for every one hundred students there are about 1.5 cases.  

Relaxing density in residence halls may also help reduce the spread of Covid-19 as less students live on campus.  Increasing peace of mind  by allowing students to study from home is beneficial both to the students and to the community. The students don’t have to worry about contracting the virus. The peace of mind that this provides the community helps with public perception. Since Casper College is partially funded on donations, it is important that the community feel that Caper College is safe. 

This closure is not a campus shutdown, but rather a pivot. Normal campus functions will still happen. Classes that cannot continue remotely (such as welding) will continue in person. It isn’t mandatory, however that students attend classes in person.

Saint Anthony’s was temporarily closed, but is now open. The decision to close was made by Cyndy Novotny after consulting with school board members and the Coronavirus task force. Novotny says, “After a number of teachers and staff and students tested positive, we felt it prudent to close with the intent to reopen on November 30th. …we opted to make a temporary closure because we were concerned for the health of both students and staff after six staff and students tested positive for Covid-19. There were also six students who tested positive and  our goal for closing for 12 days was that our families would have a better chance of being able to celebrate Christmas.”

 Some precautions taken in hopes of avoiding another closure include requiring students to wear masks inside, sanitizing, and adding plastic barriers to desks. Also, middle school students stay in one room, while the teachers for each subject rotate through. This reduces students’ exposure to other classes. Students did remote learning with the aid of Microsoft Teams. According to Novotny, “Because of the advanced technology, students login and are live and participating in classes with their classmates. We also have tracking cameras which have just been set up in which a camera follows the teacher in certain zones in the classroom.” Novotny doesn’t think that this will affect students’ future education. “When we returned in the fall to begin the 20-21 year, each student was assessed for academic needs. We were surprised at the level of skill retained,” Novotny said. Though there is no way to predict if schools will close again, the safety measures taken by Casper College and Saint Anthony’s hope to delay, if not prevent, this outcome.