On March 8th, Camas High School began its hybrid learning plan. Students in Cohort A attend school in-person on Mondays and Tuesdays and students in Cohort B attend on Thursdays and Fridays. Unfortunately, a COVID-19 outbreak among students was discovered, which forced the school to close its doors until March 18th.
While this schedule featuring some in-person learning is a giant step toward normalcy, CHS students and their families are wondering if they will eventually have students attending school in-person for all five days. With vaccine distribution in Washington state shifting its focus towards educators, people are wondering if CHS will mandate all teachers and students to get vaccinated.
CHS Associate Principal Owen Sanford said that next year’s schedule is still to be determined. He added that it greatly depends on the amount of Covid cases, how this year goes, and the overall state of the pandemic next year.
Sanford said, “I haven’t heard anything about requiring people on campus to be vaccinated.”
Carlin Washington, a science teacher at CHS, believes that this year will play a big role in whether they continue with hybrid learning next year. He hopes that students can get back to coming in five days a week, but it all depends on the Covid numbers and the state restrictions. Currently, there is no push for teachers and students to get vaccinated, but he knows several CHS teachers that have recently.
“I haven’t heard much negativity from teachers that got the vaccines,” Washington said. “I am being more cautious personally, I want to wait and see the side effects along with the long-term effects of the vaccine before I get it.”
Kathryn Carmicheal, another science teacher at CHS, said, “I haven’t heard anything about teachers or students having to receive the vaccine.”
Since next year is still a bit ways away, she said that the school does not have a solid plan yet. She believes it is likely that CHS will follow the same hybrid schedule if none of the restrictions change and the Covid rates remain the same throughout the community.
CHS Spanish teacher Jill Cuellar is in the same boat as the other teachers. She is unaware of any mandatory rules regarding getting the vaccine for next year. She said that CHS cannot force teachers to get vaccinated, but the school may want them to stay home if they do not do it.
Cuellar said, “As far as vaccines, I don’t think anyone can be forced to get it, but if it’s like with other vaccines, then you will not be allowed to work if you’re a teacher and there’s an outbreak and you’re unvaccinated. If you’re an unvaccinated student and there’s an outbreak, you would not be able to come to school. That’s how it typically is for other vaccines, but I don’t know if that is the case for this one or not.” As far as the schedule goes she says that it will really depend on the experience with the rest of this school year in-person.”
Kelly Kealoha, a member of the CHS security team, said that she is really looking forward to things getting back to normal.
“I think that next year vaccines should be mandatory but with health exceptions,” she said.
She believes that the Covid vaccine should be mandatory like vaccines kids must get to be able to attend school (Hepatitis B, DTaP, Tdap, IPV, MMR, and Varicella.) As with many other teachers, Kealoha would love for the Covid cases to drop over the summer so students could return to five days of in-person learning, if it can be done safely.
With school just beginning to open up, teachers and staff do not have a solid schedule for next year. As of right now, the Covid vaccine will not be required to attend school next year, but rules and thoughts are subject to change over the next couple of months. Many want to return to a full five-day-a-week schedule, but this can only happen if it is done safely. CHS teachers, students, and families are playing it by ear as no one is certain what next year will bring.