Camas students’ weekend party leads to COVID-19 outbreak, canceled classes

School district halts in-person classes at Camas High after 13 students test positive for COVID-19; Snell says 'no confirmed spread of virus at school'

A weekend party attended by several Camas High School students has led to a COVID-19 outbreak and a two-day closure of in-person classes at the high school. 

We have done so much work to get us back to in-person school, and I’m disappointed that some of our students blatantly ignored COVID protocols outside of school,” Camas High Principal Tom Morris wrote in a letter sent to Camas High families Thursday afternoon. “We all need to make good decisions in order to keep ourselves moving in a positive direction. You want to be in school, we want you to be in school. Whether you are in school or out, please wear your mask and follow safety protocols.”

The school district announced Wednesday, March 10, that it would pause in-person classes on Thursday and Friday, March 11-12, due to a potential outbreak amongst students. 

On Thursday, March 11, the district said there are 13 known positive COVID-19 cases and 33 known close contacts among Camas High students who attended the weekend party. 

The high school resumed in-person classes this week, with A-cohort students attending school on Monday and Tuesday, March 8-9, and B-cohort students set to begin their first days of hybrid learning on Thursday and Friday, March 11-12. 

“We are relieved to report we have not had any confirmed spread of the virus at school,” Camas School District Superintendent Jeff Snell said Thursday. “Following the mitigation strategies is so important and likely the reason we are not seeing spread in our school or classrooms. We will continue to follow up as we receive test results and work through the contact tracing process.  We want our students back in school and ask for our community’s help in following public health guidance outside of school.” 

Morris said Thursday that high school and district administrators are working with Clark County Public Health to investigate additional cases and contact trace any exposures that may have occurred at or after the party. 

The district also has postponed all extracurricular activities, including athletic practices and the Camas High football game against Battle Ground High, scheduled for Friday, March 12.

District spokesperson Doreen McKercher said most of the positive cases included Camas High football players and cheerleaders.

“There were also positive cases from non-student athletes,” McKercher told the Post-Record on Thursday, noting that the district’s athletic director, Rory Oster, has encouraged Camas football players and cheerleaders to be tested for the coronavirus.

In his letter sent to Camas High families Thursday afternoon, Morris asked parents to speak to their students about the “critical role they play in keeping their family, friends, school and community safe and healthy.”
“Their actions can save lives,” Morris said, imploring students to “wear a mask, physically distance, limit your gatherings and stay home when sick.” 

Morris also thanked Camas High students who have made good decisions surrounding COVID-19 safety. 

“Your personal decisions that help to keep us all safe are immensely appreciated,” Morris told the students. “Please keep up the good work and continue to make the right decisions, even when faced with peer pressure and temptation.”