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News / Clark County News

8 virus cases linked to Clark County schools

Officials to notify close contacts of confirmed cases

By Katie Gillespie, Columbian Education Reporter
Published: September 15, 2020, 6:05am

Clark County Public Health confirmed eight cases of the novel coronavirus connected to area schools, but officials say there’s no evidence of transmission within the affected campuses.

School and public health officials are working to identify potential close contacts of those with a confirmed case of COVID-19 to notify and quarantine those individuals.

The confirmed cases in area schools are as follows:

  • Three cases — two staff, one student — at King’s Way Christian School. Superintendent Jason Tindol said the teachers were sick before school began, and returned after school started.
  • One staff member at Shahala Middle School.
  • One staff member in the Camas School District.
  • One parent at Our Lady of Lourdes.
  • One student at Pioneer Elementary School.
  • One staff member at Hudson’s Bay High School.

Public schools started virtually on Sept. 1 and Sept. 2. Our Lady of Lourdes is also meeting remotely, while King’s Way Christian School started in-person classes with social distancing precautions in place on Sept. 9.

Dr. Alan Melnick, director of Clark County Public Health and the county’s chief health officer, said some level of COVID-19 cases are expected as schools begin to reopen. However, he noted there’s no evidence that the affected students, staffers and parent transmitted the disease to other people on campus.

“As schools open up and given the amount of disease, we’re going to see cases here and there,” Melnick said.

While Public Health will alert close contacts of confirmed cases, it falls to school districts to decide whether to inform their staff and families at large. For example, Melnick said, if a teacher went into their classroom on their own and was later discovered to be ill with COVID-19, it may not be necessary to notify all students or families if there was no evidence of transmission. If one student becomes sick, however, it may be necessary to alert and isolate all students in their classroom.

“It really depends on the particular situation,” Melnick said. “If we have transmission in a classroom, we might quarantine that classroom.”

Area school districts are slated to ramp up in-person services this month. Evergreen Public Schools was set to bring in small groups of kindergarten students at some campuses beginning Monday but delayed the program due to smoky conditions.

The most recent data shows moderate COVID-19 transmission in Clark County, with 64.07 new cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week period. If Clark County can maintain that moderate level for three weeks, schools could begin more widespread reopening for kindergarten through fifth grade students.

“We’ll identify cases, use appropriate isolation and quarantine, and that will give us information about moving forward,” Melnick said.

Columbian Education Reporter