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News / Clark County News

In-person classes canceled at Camas High after COVID spreads at party

Several football team members were at unauthorized gathering

By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 10, 2021, 3:38pm

Camas High School will pause in-person instruction Thursday and Friday following an off-site party attended by students who have since tested positive for COVID-19 or came within close contact of someone who did.

The party took place the night of March 5, said district spokeswoman Doreen McKercher, and was attended by several of the high school’s football players. Superintendent Jeff Snell said Wednesday the district is working with Clark County Public Health and contract tracing measures already are underway. McKercher said the students who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 are in isolation, and those who were identified as close contacts are under quarantine.

“That’s why we made the decision to pause (in-person instruction),” Snell said. “We’ve made a commitment to follow through with contact tracing. We’re going to make sure our countermeasures are in place and if we’re unable to do all that outreach, then we’re really compromising the commitment and responsibility we have to the community.”

So far, nine COVID-19 cases have been confirmed and 26 others were listed as exposures/close contacts. All are Camas student-athletes.

The district said it is encouraging all football players to get tested for COVID-19.   

“We can’t compel them to,” McKercher said, “but we’re really encouraging them to do it.”

In addition to a pause on in-person instruction, all of Camas’ extracurricular practices and contests are postponed through the weekend. That includes Camas’ football game Friday against Battle Ground.

The news comes the same week the school district welcomed high school students into the building for hybrid instruction for the first time since schools closed in March 2020. Cohort A began its twice-a-week in-person instruction Monday and Tuesday; Cohort B was supposed to be in the building Thursday and Friday.

Snell said the district will reevaluate later this week whether to extend the remote-only instruction into next week. He expressed disappointment for the roughly 800 students who were expected to be on campus for the first time Thursday.

“It’s unfortunate that staff and students have worked so hard to get to this point,” Snell said. “I feel terrible for those kids; they’ve been waiting and waiting and here, it’s their first day, and now we have to pause it. We can’t jeopardize their safety, either.”