High school students return to in-person class in Lewis County

VIDEO: High school students return to in-person class in Lewis County

Monday, the Winlock School District welcomed back 6th through 12th grade students for in-person learning.

“It’s kind of weird to get used to,” said junior Caleb Richendollar.

Like many areas across the state, Lewis County is in the COVID-19 high-risk category.

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Superintendent Garry Cameron said district officials have been working closely with the Lewis County Health Department to reopen schools.

“We wouldn’t come back if they said it’s not safe, so we waited for the Department of Health to say it was OK,” he said.

Kindergartners started school in September. Students in grades one to five returned in October. Middle and high school students were welcomed back into the building on Monday, more than eight months after the coronavirus closed schools in March.

“Everything is just wild, like having to wake up in the mornings again, just having to relearn everything and just communicate and just everything,” said sophomore Angela Gil.

About 70% of secondary students chose the hybrid approach. Students attend class two days a week and learn remotely the other three days.

“I feel like online isn’t my type of learning. I like being with friends and being at school,” said Richendollar.

“I’m more of a visual learner, and it’s easier for me to see someone doing the work and help me with the work,” said Gil.

The safety steps at the school are strict, but they appear to be working. There hasn’t been an outbreak connected to Winlock schools.

Everyone entering the building wears a mask, gets a temperature check and fills out a health screening form. Hallways are filled with social distancing stickers, hand sanitizing stations and COVID-19 posters. Classrooms are smaller with fewer students, and desks are spread out. The cafeteria is different too, and blue boxes mark spots where students can sit and eat.

“We’re always concerned about students' health and safety, staff’s health and safety and security pre-COVID, COVID and post-COVID,” said Cameron.

Cameron said schools will continue to follow the Lewis County Health Department’s guidelines and, if they need to return to remote learning, they already have a plan in place.