Port Angeles lays out plan for return

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County’s promising COVID-19 infection rate will allow Port Angeles School District first- and second-graders to go back to school — sort of — later this month.

District officials plan to allow the youngsters on Oct. 19 to cast aside their five-day distance-learning regimen and replace it with hybrid-learning — two days of in-classroom instruction weekly — if the infection rate remains at the low-to-moderate range, the school board learned Thursday evening.

Kindergartners already have returned.

Schools Superintendent Martin Brewer told board members that reopening decisions will be made in consultation with Dr. Allison Unthank, county health officer, who attended the meeting.

Gades 3-6 could be welcomed back to the hybrid model on Nov. 2, Brewer said.

They would attend classes at schools two days a week and distance-learn two days a week.

“COVID-19 metrics will continue to guide us in our decisions for moving between our PASD dial stages,” the district said Friday on its website in a message to parents.

Unthank told board members that Clallam County is among the eight lowest COVID-rate counties in the state of Washington, although not as low as Jefferson County.

“We’re holding our own,” she said.

“We’ve been staying below 25 cases per 100,000.”

The upcoming holidays are “a huge wild card” in determining how fast children can get back to school, she said, warning against participating in large, family-centered, away-from-home gatherings.

The majority of Clallam County cases continue to affect people in their teens, 20s and 30s, with 256 cases and a 1.7 percent positive rate, and a goal of maintaining that at under 2 percent, she said.

“Currently we are in the low-risk range, but just barely,” Unthank said. As of Thursday, that had been the case for six days, with two weeks the goal.

The county has mostly been in the moderate range. It’s too early tell how long the low-range levels will stay consistent, Unthank added.

“In the moderate range, the recommendation is really exactly what you guys are doing , which is to start reopening elementary education first and then to move on to considering adding middle and high school if you have stability in the elementary range.”

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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