‘Evolving and complex;’ Clark County school districts aim to expand in-person learning

Physical distancing in classrooms can be as little as three feet, but remains at six feet during other parts of the day

CLARK COUNTY — Following updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the Washington Department of Health, school districts around the state can now fit up to twice as many students in a classroom.

More students could soon be returning to classrooms in Clark County. File photo
More students could soon be returning to classrooms in Clark County. File photo

While updated guidance issued last week was “effective immediately,” most school districts will require at least a couple of weeks to implement the changes and expand access to in-person learning. A process one district spokesperson called “complex” and “evolving.”

Gail Spolar, a spokesperson with Evergreen Public Schools said discussions are ongoing about how the changes would impact their 38 schools, and Washougal School District said they hope to have updates to share with the community sometime on Tuesday.

Battle Ground Public Schools is reportedly planning to begin five-day-a-week in-person learning starting the week of April 26, though details are still being worked out.

Vancouver Public Schools didn’t respond to a request for comment, but has a Board of Directors work session scheduled for Tuesday evening which includes a segment on the implications of the new guidance.

Under that new guidance, physical distancing between students in classrooms can be reduced to three feet from six, so long as masks and other mitigation measures remain in place. But students must still remain six feet apart while eating lunch, since they can’t wear masks, giving districts a difficult equation to work out before they can expand in-person learning.

Currently, most districts in Clark County divide students between two cohorts, with one attending Mondays and Tuesdays, and the other on Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesday is generally reserved either for fully remote learning, or teacher in-service days.

It is unclear at this point if all districts will opt for the five-day option, or attempt to retain one fully remote day. Districts must also continue providing a fully remote learning option for students or families who request it.

Clark County Today will continue monitoring the district’s reopening plans and provide updates here and on our social media channels.

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