Mask order waived for GHS graduation

Nathan Oster

Although still recommended, Big Horn County School District No. 3 will not require people attending Greybull High School’s commencement ceremony on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. to wear masks or social distance.

School board members on Tuesday, May 11 voted to seek an exception to the 27th continuation of the statewide public health order regarding child care facilities, K-12 schools, colleges, universities and trade schools. That order is in effect statewide through May 31, but it won’t be enforced in Greybull schools after Saturday, May 22.

Hillary Mulley, Big Horn County’s public health nurse, said her office received word on Monday that Dr. Alexia Harrist, the Wyoming state health officer, had granted the exception. It applies to all four school districts in the county, all of which are planning commencements in the coming days. 

It also covers the final week of school.  In Greybull, the school year ends Friday, May 28.

Supt. Mark Rose told board members on May 11 that a lot of discussion went into the decision to request the exception.  It involved not only the four superintendents, but also school nurses and public health officials — the same group that developed the Smart Start plan that allowed students to return to their buildings last fall.

“Everyone who wants to be vaccinated has been vaccinated,” said Rose, in making the case for the exception.  “This is just a way for us to be in compliance and still have a graduation that people can attend.”

In addition to not requiring masks, the exemption also allows the district to avoid the stipulation that an indoor event of more than 500 spectators be held at no more than 50% of the capacity of the venue, which in this case is Buff Gym.

Trustee Lynette Murray said she doesn’t want to send the message that people who choose to wear a mask aren’t welcome at the graduation ceremony.  “Whichever way you go (with a mask or without one) should be acceptable,” she said.

In a letter to parents of the soon-to-be-grads, GHS Principal Ty Flock said there will not be a designated parent section “so that we can allow for more spacing in the gym.  Parents, family members and guests of the parents are encouraged to sit in family groups to avoid potential contamination issues.”