Local education associations on Thursday called on Clark County Public Health and local school districts to delay the expansion of in-person learning until community case rates decline.
A news release from WEA-Riverside Council and Vancouver Education Association, representing a combined 6,500 local educators and support staff, said they want to return to the classroom when it’s safe for everyone.
“Remote learning is in place to save lives,” said Anna-Melissa Lyons, WEA Riverside Council president and middle school math teacher. “We can’t lose sight of why we’re doing this.”
The release said nine school districts met with Public Health to push for a faster reopening but that school staff and community members weren’t included in those conversations. ESD 112 announced late last month it would soon offer in-person learning for kindergartners.
The state Department of Health recommends phasing in hybrid learning when cases are below 75 per 100,000 for two weeks and positive test cases remain below 5 percent. Clark County’s current rate is 131 cases per 100,000 residents and the positive test rate was 5.63 percent as of Oct. 17.
“Research tells us that in-person instruction is safe when community spread is low, and our community right now has ever increasing case numbers,” Alan Adams, Ridgefield EA president and intermediate art teacher, said in the news release. “Our educators have grave concerns about the potential for in-person instruction to contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”
The education associations say they haven’t been able to meet with Public Health Officer Dr. Alan Melnick and have emailed him questions about the school reopening guidelines.