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News / Clark County News

Clark County schools adjusting to Inslee directive

By Katie Gillespie, Columbian Education Reporter
Published: March 25, 2020, 6:06am

Since March 16, nothing has been settled for area school districts and colleges. It took only a week for the situation to become even more restrictive.

With Gov. Jay Inslee’s Monday “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, students are navigating new roadblocks in addition to already closed schools and canceled programs.

Clark College is moving the start of its spring quarter back to April 20, two weeks after students would normally return to class. Washington State University Vancouver, meanwhile, will be closing its campus after Wednesday for the rest of the spring semester, which ends May 8. Classes were up and running remotely effective Monday.

Spokeswoman Brenda Alling said the university will be reimbursing students for their parking passes, and will have checkout hours available for loaner laptops. The college’s food pantry will remain open; Alling said the college is still working to set hours.

At Clark College, spokeswoman Kelly Love said the additional two weeks’ break should give the college sufficient time to help faculty move their coursework online. She said hands-on classes in programs like mechatronics or automotive mechanics will, for now, continue so long as students practice safe social distancing.

“We’re doing this whole rapid reinvention of how we do education,” Love said. “We’re making good headway.”

Because public schools were already closed, Inslee’s order caused fewer changes for the public school system. But Clark County’s largest school district, Evergreen Public Schools, ended its lunch delivery to elementary school bus stops. Pick-up locations are open. It’s still a blow to the district’s families, who collected about 45,000 meals last week.

“We’re still trying to operate safely and compliantly,” district spokeswoman Gail Spolar said.

Vancouver Public Schools, meanwhile, announced it would be starting child care for first responders, medical professionals and grocery store workers effective March 30, joining other local school districts that have also been offering the service.

District spokeswoman Pat Nuzzo also noted that Vancouver’s grab-and-go lunch sites have been popular. Staff handed out 7,669 meals last week.

What happens with the new restrictions, however, remains to be seen.

“The Clark County Food Bank, Share, other avenues people would typically use may not be there or not to the level they’re used to,” Nuzzo said. “Week one was already that much response. What is week two or week three or week four going to look like?”

Columbian Education Reporter