On March 8, hundreds of Camas High School students shuffled back into the building for the first time in a year. The large majority of CHS students have not stepped foot inside the building since this same time last year. However, CHS was only open for two days before it had to shut down again.
Unfortunately, a serious situation came to the administration’s attention towards the end of school on Tuesday. At first, administrators were investigating a potential COVID-19 potential outbreak that occurred at an off-site, non-school affiliated event and involved one individual. CHS Principal Tom Morris sent a message home to families via StudentSquare and ParentSquare on March 10th, explaining the situation and CHS’s partnership with Clark County Public Health to work through contact tracing. As the day went on, parents informed the team that there were additional positive cases in the community tied to a weekend party on March 5.
CHS decided to take precautionary measures and close the campus on March 11 and March 12, meaning students in the B cohort will not be able to return to school until next week at the earliest.
As of March 12th, there are 16 known positive cases and 34 close contacts among CHS students. On Friday Morris announced the school closure will continue through March 16. Students in Cohort B are set to return to school on the 18 and 19, and in-person events and activities are allowed to resume on the 17.
Even though the return to the classroom was short-lived, CHS students, staff, and administrators reflected on what it felt like to resume in-person learning for the first time in a year.
CHS Senior Daniel Dyra said, “I like it. Obviously, there’s not much you can expect with masks and having to clean everything, but for what it is I really like it.”
CHS Senior Andrey Tkachenko said, “My first day of school was great because it’s a better environment for me, and I can focus more when I’m here at school.”
CHS Senior Ethan Tobey said, “I like being able to actually see my friends and talk to my teachers and it’s easier to focus.”
CHS Principal Tom Morris said, “I think it’s been great, I love seeing kids in the building. A lot of the systems we put in place, like for lunch and check-in, seem to work pretty well. With everything, we are going to make some tweaks here and there, but a lot of staff did great work putting this together and it shows.”
CHS Associate Principal Tim Fox said, “I always hope for the best and plan for the possible worst. With that in mind, it’s going fairly smoothly. Kids are pretty responsive. For the most part, it seems to be going okay. Some relearning for all of us, adults included.”
Kelly Kealoha, a member of the CHS campus security team, said, “I’ve had a blast because I got to be out on the front with the cheerleaders, welcoming and checking for the green checkmark. I didn’t sleep well the night before because I was so excited to see the kids again.”
One common thread that has been shared by both students and staff is optimism. Some people viewing the CHS building from the outside might just nonchalantly walk or drive by. But for CHS students and staff, they are not taking their building for granted. They shared their uproarious joy on what it means to be physically back in the building.
Sanford said, “I got the chance to get into some classrooms and hearing remote learners talking over the announcements and engaging with the whole class blew me away. That’s just one example of the hard work teachers are putting into this to make sure it goes smooth for everybody.”
He added, “It’s the first day in almost a year, the most we’ve seen in this building since then is about 70 students and now we are 700ish. It feels much better. It’s nice to see staff and students.”