Commentary: Camas students could use compassion, not blame

Large gathering that appears to be source of a COVID-19 outbreak had students from all walks of life, not just football players

Be empathetic. Not judgmental.

Be concerned. Not angry.

Because it could have happened to your teen, or at your child’s school. Or, it could have happened in your home.

COVID-19 came to Camas this week. 

Paul Valencia
Paul Valencia

It had already been there, of course. COVID has been everywhere around the world.

It is just front and center in Camas again because several students at the high school tested positive. It also happened at the start of hybrid-learning, as students were returning to campus this week. Apparently, many of these students who later tested positive for COVID attended what the school district described as a party.

Camas High School acted swiftly, pausing just about everything. Remote learning will continue. Everything else associated with the school is in a holding pattern. That includes extracurricular activities. No sporting events the rest of this week.

Makes perfect sense. Work with the Department of Health. Try to minimize the damage.

But of course, this is the COVID era, so everything must turn into WORST-CASE SCENARIO. COVID-shaming!

And the finger-pointing.

Those football players should have known better, the “amateur experts” on social media claimed. Someone even questioned the coach. The coach? 

Why were these comments directed only to football players? OK, the district did confirm football players were involved. But who else was there?

Everything was put on pause at Camas High School. Not just football. So I’m guessing this get-together was not just for football players.

Wait a minute. I don’t have to guess. I confirmed Wednesday night that the event in question featured students from all walks of life. Not just football players. Not just athletes.

Instead, let’s just call it a large gathering. Not a gathering of football players. Not a gathering of athletes. But a gathering of some, or even many, students from Camas High School. 

Fair enough?

Now, the real experts have been telling us for a year now that such gatherings can be dangerous, that they can lead to the spread of the disease. 

But try to remember what it was like for you as a teenager. Try to envision enduring this pandemic when you were that age.

If experts told you that you wouldn’t be able to see your friends for a few weeks, but then those same experts kept saying that for a year, is it possible you would have found a way to hang out with friends?

Forget teens for a moment. What about you?  How many of you have followed every guideline, honored every restriction? Anybody attend a small Super Bowl party, for example? 

I’m guessing 99 percent of us have, at least once, done something that went against the government’s recommendations. 

I have.

I’ve hung out with my friends a few times. I was careful. I knew the risks, and I took precautions. Still, visiting with those friends was riskier behavior than just sitting at home for 12 months.

Back to the students at Camas, we understand at least nine have tested positive. Many others are considered to have been exposed. 

To those who are sick, I pray for a speedy recovery. To those of you exposed, I pray for peace of mind as you wonder if you have COVID-19 as well. 

We used to live in a country where people showed sympathy for those who fell ill. For some reason, that is not the case with COVID. 

No one wants to get sick, or get hurt. But sometimes we make decisions that put us at a higher risk to get sick or hurt. Well, that describes a lot of things in life. So, no, I won’t be pointing any fingers at students at Camas High School. 

I heard a reporter this past fall describing an NFL team’s philosophy when dealing with a teammate who tested positive for COVID-19. I’ve been trying to live up to that philosophy since I heard it:

More compassion. Less blame.

No one associated with Camas High School is to blame for COVID-19.