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Dec. 2, 2021

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Evergreen, Vancouver, Ridgefield offer plans to return high schoolers to classrooms

Return depends on continued decline in COVID-19 infections

By , Columbian staff writer

High school students in three Clark County districts will soon be back in their classrooms for the first time in almost one full year.

Evergreen Public Schools, the county’s largest school district, announced Friday it plans to welcome students in grades nine to 12 for twice-a-week in-person instruction as soon as March 4 as long as COVID-19 cases are at 200 or fewer per 100,000 population by Tuesday.

Clark County’s COVID-19 activity level fell this week to 209.8 new cases per 100,000 over the past 14 days, continuing the trend of declining numbers.

Ridgefield School District made a similar announcement Friday. It will begin transitioning high-school students into classrooms March 2.

Vancouver Public Schools have informed staff and families it plans to begin hybrid learning for ninth-graders March 8 and the rest of high school grades March 15, district spokeswoman Pat Nuzzo said. Those numbers are contingent on COVID-19 rates and staff availability, Nuzzo added.

Clark County continues to be in the “moderate” phase of COVID-19 activity, according to Gov. Jay Inslee’s revised school guidelines from December. Under that guidance, schools can reintroduce in-person instruction starting with elementary schools and continuing with secondary grades.

In Evergreen, ninth-graders in the district will take part in building orientations March 1-2, with students in all grades planning to begin hybrid learning March 4.

“We do not want to have a prolonged start-up process for returning high school students to school,” Evergreen Superintendent Mike Merlino said in a news release.  “We have all the necessary safety protocols in place, and have been successfully using them in our schools since September. In addition to our experience with the elementary and middle school students returning for hybrid learning, we have also been serving in-person small groups of high school students over the last five months.”

Earlier this week, Woodland Public Schools unveiled its plans to have full in-person instruction five days a week for all elementary students beginning Tuesday. Twice-a-week in-person instruction for all secondary students starts March 2.