Gingerbread houses

FILE PHOTO — South Ridge Elementary kindergarteners get together with their third grade buddies to build gingerbread houses in January. 

Nine Clark County superintendents made a collective agreement announced Oct. 26 to bring small groups of Kindergarten students back into school buildings for in-person instruction, a release from Educational Service District 112 stated that day.

County school districts including Battle Ground, Green Mountain, Hockinson, La Center and Ridgefield were prepared for groups of 10 or fewer Kindergarten students into buildings, the release stated. The districts worked closely with Clark County Public Health in order to develop a “safe, cautious approach; consistent with state health guidance,” according to the release.

Individuals districts will develop their specific implementation plans, the release noted, working with employee unions. Detailed information from the districts are expected to be available in coming weeks.

“Bringing small groups of kindergarten students into classrooms for in-person education is a cautious and incremental approach that fits within state health department guidance,” Clark County Health Officer and Public Health Director Alan Melnick said in the release. “With small group sizes and continued preventive measures, such as mask-wearing and physical distancing, we believe in-person education is safe for both students and staff because children this young are less likely to transmit the virus to others.”

The release noted the reopening consideration was in line with state guidance on high-risk counties for COVID-19 activity, of which Clark County is one.

“Kindergarten students have no classroom experience and remote learning presents significant challenges for our youngest learners,” Vancouver Public Schools Superintendent Steve Webb said in the release. “This is a cautious, thoughtful and safe approach to support effective student learning for very young students.”

Local districts have already provided in-person instruction to small groups of special education students, some pre-kindergarten students, and kindergarten students since the summer, the release stated. Preventative measures will continue to be used, like health screenings for COVID-19 symptoms, physical distancing, mask wearing, increased hand washing, and enhanced cleaning protocols.

Public Health and school districts will continue to monitor virus activity, the release stated, with decisions regarding in-person education for other grade levels not made at this time.

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