Camas High School COVID-19 outbreak grows to 13 students

There is no evidence at this point of transmission inside of schools or classrooms, said the district

CAMAS — Hybrid in-person learning will remain on pause, at least for the remainder of this week, following an outbreak of COVID-19 among students at Camas High School.

The district had just started bringing high school students back this week, but learned on Wednesday that at least three students who had attended an off-campus gathering last Friday had tested positive for the virus.

Camas High School paused in-person learning this week due to a COVID-19 outbreak among students. File photo
Camas High School paused in-person learning this week due to a COVID-19 outbreak among students. File photo

As of Thursday afternoon, the district said 13 students had tested positive, and 33 others were considered close contacts. Efforts were ongoing to determine any other potential exposures, but district Superintendent Jeff Snell said there has been no evidence of transmission inside of the school or any classrooms to date.

“A-Cohort students attended school in-person Monday and Tuesday this week. We are relieved to report we have not had any confirmed spread of the virus at school,” Snell said in a news release on Thursday. “Following the mitigation strategies is so important and likely the reason we are not seeing spread in our school or classrooms.”

In a letter to parents on March 10, Camas High School Principal Tom Morris said the school and the district have taken every possible precaution to protect students and teachers in their buildings, but there is one element they can’t control:

“Individuals’ behaviors to protect themselves and those around them.”

“Please talk to your children about the critical role they play in keeping their family, friends, school, and community safe and healthy,” Morris wrote. “Their actions can save lives.”

According to information obtained by Clark County Today, the gathering on Friday included members of both the varsity and freshman football teams, cheerleaders, other student-athletes, as well as other students from the school. Sources estimated there were 35-40 students in attendance.

“We have done so much work to get us back to in-person school and I’m disappointed that some of our students blatantly ignored COVID protocols outside of school,” Morris wrote in his letter, obtained by Clark County Today. “We all need to make good decisions in order to keep ourselves moving in a positive direction. You want to be in school, we want you to be in school. Whether you are in school or out, please wear your mask and follow safety protocols.”

It wasn’t immediately clear if the district would take any further disciplinary measures against students who attended the party. The Camas Papermakers’ game against Battle Ground, scheduled for Friday, was postponed, and may not be able to be rescheduled. Other sporting events, including volleyball and boys tennis were also postponed.

“We will continue to follow up as we receive test results and work through the contact tracing process,” said Snell. “We want our students back in school and ask for our community’s help in following public health guidance outside of school.”

Snell said further information about plans for next week would be announced on Friday.

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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