Districts also pause transition for older graders due to high COVID transmission
Kalama and Woodland school districts announced rollbacks in the transition of students from remote learning to in-person learning Friday as a result of unprecedented increases in confirmed COVID-19 cases throughout Clark and Cowlitz Counties.
In collaboration with county health experts, the districts made the decision to limit any in-person learning beyond kindergarten and first grade students to small groups. The decision was made after seeing rising numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases, increased hospitalization rates, test positivity rates, and increased virus reproduction rates (the number of new people infected by a single infected patient). These data points are increasing at such a dramatic rate that safe in-person learning for all elementary grades is no longer possible.
Both districts chose to continue offering in-person learning to students in kindergarten and first grade as these students are in the critical years of early reading development and are most in need of in-person learning. Without in-person instruction, kindergartners and first graders will experience the biggest challenges of any elementary-aged students in remote-only learning environments.
To enable the schools to practice social distancing and make mitigation efforts such as contact-tracing more effective, the health department advised the districts to reduce the number of students regularly attending schools to two grades. By allowing only two grades to attend, the likelihood of potential virus spread will be substantially reduced while prevention and mitigation efforts such as contract-tracing will be more effective with fewer people in each building.
For Woodland Public Schools, students in grades K-4 have been attending a hybrid in-person schedule, so this change means all students in grades 2-4 will return to remote-only learning. The return to remote-only learning for all students in grades 2-12 starts this upcoming Mon., Nov. 23.
For Kalama School District, only kindergarten and first grade students were attending full-day in-person learning at the time of this release, so this decision pauses any further transition to hybrid learning for higher grades. Additionally, regularly-scheduled small group rotations for students in grades 6-12 will be put on hold beginning on Mon., Nov. 23.
The decision to restart the transition to greater in-person learning will be made in collaboration with county health professionals and will involve a substantial and sustained reduction in the number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases.
For regular updates from each of the school districts on the efforts they are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while still educating students, visit their websites:
Kalama School District: www.kalamaschools.org
Woodland Public Schools: www.woodlandschools.org
Information provided by Woodland School District.