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Wyoming Indian High School became the second school on the Wind River Indian Reservation to cancel its fall sports schedule, WIHS activities director Keith Bauder said.

In an email to wyoming-football.com, Bauder said the school will start classes online. The school will reconsider moving back to in-person classes on Oct. 1, with the earliest move to face-to-face classes being Oct. 16.

“It is sad for our students but we have to look at the safety factor first for students and families in our area,” Bauder said via email.

Wyoming Indian’s Board of Trustees voted 5-0 Tuesday to continue classes online. The school announced the decision on Twitter.

Wyoming Indian joins St. Stephens as schools that have had to cancel fall sports and move classes online to start the semester. St. Stephens’ school board made a similar move last week.

Wyoming Indian plays in Class 1A nine-man football and Class 2A in cross country and volleyball. The Wyoming Indian boys cross country program has won 22 state championships, including 13 since 2003. The girls cross country team won its first state title last year.

In an interview with wyoming-football.com on Wednesday, Bauder said the decision from the Board of Trustees helped put first the safety not only of the students but of the community.

“It’s sad because you know how important it is to the kids,” Bauder said. “Out here, families are very close and big, and their culture is family (centered).”

Both Wyoming Indian and St. Stephens are on the Wind River Indian Reservation, where a stay-at-home order has been in place for several months.

“There were so many ‘ifs’ and no answers,” Bauder said. “You can do all the planning you want, but when you’re working with ‘ifs,’ you can have every precaution you want, and (there’s a chance) it still happens.”

Bauder said students from schools closed by COVID-19 could compete for other schools for the fall sports season. When the closed schools re-open, though, those students have to choose whether to stay at their new school or return to their old school. Once students make that choice, Bauder said, they have to stick with it or be subject to traditional transfer rules.

“We haven’t crossed that bridge, but I’m sure we will,” Bauder said. “It’s sad (to lose students), but it gives the kids the opportunity to compete, which is good. We just hope we can get them all back again.”

This story will be updated as new information becomes available.

–patrick

This story was updated at 8:53 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5, with comments from Bauder.

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