Camas schools ramp up in-person learning

Camas schools continue to ramp up in-person learning.

At a Camas school board meeting held Monday, March 8, Camas School District Superintendent Jeff Snell said the district’s elementary school families continue to send their children to in-person classes at a higher rate than high school families, with about 85 percent of Camas elementary school students receiving in-person learning versus about 70 percent of the area’s high-schoolers.

On March 22, the district will transition students in grades K-5 to four full days of in-person instruction, with remote learning happening every Wednesday — giving janitorial staff time to deep clean elementary school buildings at least once a week.

Snell said district leaders are now trying to figure out space constraints at Camas middle and high schools. The question, he said, is how to accommodate more students while still adhering to the 6-foot distancing protocol advised by Clark County and state of Washington public health departments.

“The next question is grades six to eight and increasing (in-person) days for them,” Snell told school board members Monday. “Really, we’re in a stuck position right now. We have capacity challenges at the secondary level. We will probably have to add some staff. It’s hard to find staff right now, but that’s a challenge we can address. The challenge we can’t address is the six-foot challenge … that makes it difficult to add days for our students.”

The school board and district administrators will begin to plan for the 2021-22 school year after Spring Break, and will likely plan on public health departments keeping several COVID-19 prevention protocols in place, including the 6-foot distancing rule.

“If the metric stays at six feet, that doesn’t mean we can’t add (in-person) days (in 2021-22),” Snell said Monday. “We would have to invest at a higher level for secondary staff … and it might require us to change schedules. We would have to be creative with our facilities.”

School board member Corey McEnry said Monday that he would like to pivot toward five days of in-person learning next school year, with the possibility of offering the fully remote Camas Connection Academy to families who do not want to — or are unable to — send their students back to the classroom while COVID-19 is still circulating.

“It’s tough in this climate to know with any certainty what is going to happen next week, much less months from now,” McEnry said. “But we need to have those planning sessions and conversations (about what school will look like next fall) now.”