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Seattle Times Opinion

Big cyberattacks should be handled by nations, not lawyers
Author: Noah Feldman

The solution to ransomware comes from the U.S. and other powerful countries using their power and influence to change the incentives of states like Russia and North Korea, from where most of the attacks seem to come.

NYT Politics

Middle-Class Pay Lost Pace. Is Washington to Blame?
Author: Noam Scheiber
A new paper by liberal economists presents evidence that policymakers helped hold down wages for four decades.

Columbian Newspaper

Fire officials aim to squelch blazes fast, avoid megafires
Author: MATTHEW BROWN, Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont.  — U.S. officials said Thursday that they will try to stamp out wildfires as quickly as possible this year as severe drought tightens its grip across the West and sets the stage for another destructive summer of blazes.

By aggressively responding to smaller fires, officials said they hope to minimize the number of so-called megafires that have become more common as climate change makes the landscape warmer and dryer.

A similar approach was taken last year, driven in part by the pandemic and a desire to avoid the large congregations of personnel needed to fight major fires. Nevertheless, 2020 became one of worst fire years on record, with more than 10 million acres (4 million hectares) of land scorched and almost 18,000 houses and other structures destroyed, according to federal data and the research group Headwaters Economics.

California was especially hard-hit, including one fire in the northern part of the state that topped a million acres (400,000 hectares).

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told firefighting personnel Thursday to brace themselves for another challenging year given the historic drought conditions.

Haaland and Vilsack wrote in a memo to fire leaders that, “90 percent of the West is currently experiencing drought.”

“These conditions have not only increased the likelihood of wildfires but they have also strained water supplies and increased tensions in communities,” they wrote.

A shortage of resources last year hobbled firefighting efforts for more than two months at the height of the season. Twelve people involved in firefighting efforts were killed as were at least 45 civilians in Oregon and California, federal officials said.

For 2021, the Biden administration is seeking a 4% increase in wildfire fighting spending — to $2.5 billion — for the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Interior. An additional $1.7 billion is sought by the Forest Service to manage fire dangers including by thinning stands of trees, conducting controlled burns and other measures. That’s a $476 million increase, according to the White House.

Scrum of challengers awaits Cheney after House GOP ouster
Author: MEAD GRUVER, Associated Press

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — For pro-Trump Republicans, removing Rep. Liz Cheney from House GOP leadership was relatively easy. Booting her from office will be another matter.

The rush to punish Cheney for her criticism of former President Donald Trump and his loyalists is drawing a cast of Wyoming primary challengers so big it could ultimately help her win again next year. Another boost for Cheney is a pile of campaign money and a family legacy that has helped her before.

Still, there’s no doubt that her campaign to call out Trump’s lies about fraud in the 2020 election is firing up opposition — in the process revitalizing old complaints about a politician some see as more in touch with Washington insiders than Wyomingites.

Over a year remains before Wyoming’s deadline to file for the August 2022 Republican primary, but already at least six Republicans plan to run against her.

The growing scrum, ranging from a retired Army colonel to a rural kombucha brewer, is on the minds of Cheney allies and opponents alike.

“There’s going to be an awful lot of them. It’s probably going to split the vote,” observed Mark Falk, a Cheyenne resident planning to vote against Cheney.

Cheney told reporters Thursday she welcomed — “obviously” — anybody who wanted to join the race against her.

“There are millions and millions of Republicans out there who want us to be a party that stands for principles and who are very worried about the direction that the party is going and don’t want the party to be dragged backward by the former president,” Cheney said.

Trump has promised to endorse a Cheney challenger, but the window of opportunity for Cheney’s opponents to do much else to narrow the field may have closed. A bill, backed by Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. to institute primary runoffs, failed in the Wyoming Legislature in March amid concerns about costs and making big changes to the election system on short notice.

Cheney, meanwhile, has proved she can rebound from ignominy to prevail in a crowded field of Republicans — it’s how she first got elected. After ditching an ill-received run for Senate in 2014, she came back to run for the House in 2016, winning almost twice as many votes as the runner-up in a nine-way primary.

She’s since knocked off little-known Republican and Democratic opponents alike with ease, all while building up a formidable fundraising operation. From January through March, she brought in $1.5 million — her best quarter yet.

Her national profile as a daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney doesn’t hurt. And she could even get a boost from her status as Democrats’ new favorite Republican. Wyoming allows voters to register at the polls, and its Democrats often switch affiliation to vote in a hotly contested Republican primary.

To be sure, discontent with Cheney in Wyoming has grown wider and deeper since she voted to impeach Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Even after she survived her House Republican colleagues’ first attempt to oust her from leadership on Feb. 3, she was censured in an overwhelming vote by the state GOP central committee.

“I’ve never been a Cheney fan,” said one primary opponent, Marissa Joy Selvig, a former mayor of Pavillion, population 200. “She has been working more for herself and for the Republican Party than she has the citizens of Wyoming. That’s what I see.”

A farmer’s market kombucha brewer who accompanies student and church musicians on harp, piano, flute and other instruments, Selvig said she planned to run for Congress even before Cheney’s recent troubles.

Selvig pledged to serve in Congress with a “sense of peacefulness” and willingness to “work together for the good of the nation.”

Others running include state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, a gun rights activist and co-owner of a Cheyenne-area septic system business; state Rep. Chuck Gray, a conservative radio commentator whose father owns Casper-area radio stations; and retired Army Col. Denton Knapp of Trabuco Canyon, California, who graduated from high school in Wyoming in 1983 and plans to move back.

Trump and his allies have yet to hint at whom, if anybody, among Cheney’s opponents they prefer, even though doing so could discourage yet more candidates from entering the fray.

Cheney’s predicament with Trump has meanwhile breathed new life into old gripes, including that she spent little time in Wyoming before moving to wealthy Jackson Hole in 2012.

Labeled a “carpetbagger,” Cheney struggled through a six-month run against popular Sen. Mike Enzi, a fellow Republican, before dropping out in early 2014.

She regrouped, traveling the state and building an organization that helped her dominate a nine-way Republican primary for an open U.S. House seat in 2016. She beat a little-known Democrat with 62% of the vote and has won reelection by even wider margins since.

Yet to this day, Cheney has never quite proved herself for some Wyomingites who wonder why she voted to impeach when she and Trump both won the state in 2020 with almost 70% of the vote.

“I think she’s gotten way too far away from Wyoming, is just more of a Washington insider than anything,” Falk said. “I always kind of never thought she was a real Wyoming representative.”

Trump wasn’t popular in Wyoming at first, either. But that has changed.

In 2016, caucusing Republicans gave Texas Sen. Ted Cruz 23 delegates and just one each to Trump and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. That October, with Cheney closing in on winning the House seat Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis was vacating, Lummis said she would vote for Trump while “holding my nose.”

Lately though, Lummis, elected last year to the Senate to replace the retiring Enzi, has been conspicuously quiet about Cheney. Just as Cheney was being voted out of House leadership, Lummis tweeted about transportation infrastructure and has kept silent about her close colleague’s fate.

“Nobody is standing with Liz,” lamented Republican state Rep. Landon Brown of Cheyenne, one of the very few Wyoming elected officials to take to social media in Cheney’s defense. “They’re all afraid to take on the Republican Party and stand up for what’s right.”

Another Cheyenne resident, though, said that while he understood Cheney’s interest in upholding the Constitution, impeaching Trump over the riot wasn’t a straightforward proposition.

“Let’s be honest, the attack on Congress was terrible. Whether or not you hold him responsible for that, I don’t know that that’s completely fair to say that he was personally responsible, although he didn’t do much to relieve it,” said George Geyer, a retired teacher and coach.

Cheney hasn’t done a terrible job, Geyer added, but he will probably consider voting for somebody else.

Times Square shooting suspect mulls extradition from Florida
Author: Associated Press

STARKE, Fla. (AP) — The man suspected of shooting and wounding three people in New York’s Times Square, including a 4-year-old girl, will get a few days to consider extradition from Florida.

At a brief hearing Thursday in Starke, Florida, a judge gave Farrakhan Muhammad several days to consult with a lawyer on whether he will waive a full extradition hearing and agree to return to New York.

He’s expected back in court Sunday, according to the Bradford County court clerk.

Muhammad, 31, was arrested Wednesday at a McDonald’s in Starke. In New York, investigators say he wounded three people with stray bullets during some type of dispute involving his brother and others.

Also charged is Muhammad’s girlfriend, Kristine Vergara, who was with him at the McDonalds. She is charged with being an accessory after the fact and was jailed Thursday on $500,000 bail, according to court records.

Muhammad and Vergara were ordered to have no contact with each other. She is being appointed a public defender but that lawyer’s name was not immediately available.

Wendy Magrinat, a 23-year-old tourist visiting from Rhode Island, was shot in the leg. A 43-year-old woman from New Jersey was shot in the foot. The 4-year-old girl, from Brooklyn, was also shot in the leg.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said all three victims have been released from the hospital and are expected to fully recover.

Big 0.6% April wholesale price jump catches many off guard
Author: MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices, driven by escalating costs for services and food, jumped 0.6% in April, surprising economists and providing more evidence that inflation pressures are starting to mount with the country emerging from a recession brought on by the pandemic.

The increase in the producer price index, which measures inflationary pressures before they reach consumers, was double the 0.3% gain that economists had been expecting. The increase, reported Thursday by the Labor Department, followed a sizable 1% advance in March.

Over the past 12 months, wholesale prices are up 6.2%, the largest advance since the data was first calculated in 2010.

Food prices shot up 2.1% in April, the biggest monthly tick higher since a similar increase last October. Costs for things like airline services and food retailing services climbed 0.6%. Two-thirds of the increase in wholesale prices was attributed to the jump in the overall cost of such services.

Energy prices fell 2.4% after a string of big gains that began in December. Economists believe that energy prices will resume their upward march soon, reflecting among other things the temporary shutdown of the nation’s largest fuel pipeline due to a cyberattack.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, rose 0.7% in April, reflecting widespread price pressures that are showing up as demand increases with the wider reopening of the economy. Over the past 12 months, core inflation at the wholesale level is up 4.1%.

The report on wholesale inflation came a day after the government reported that consumer prices shot up 0.8% in April, the largest monthly jump in more than a decade, with one-third of the gain attributed to a record 10% increase in used car prices.

Federal Reserve officials including Fed Chairman Jerome Powell insist that the recent price increases will be temporary as the economy reopens, and not a sign that inflation is getting out of control.

Yet rising prices have jarred Wall Street, which just registered three days of losses and the biggest one-day drop in the S&P 500 since February. Investors fear rising prices will force the central bank to abandon the ultra-low interest rate policies put in place to support the economy after pandemic shutdowns forced millions of people out of work.

However, private economists said despite the reports this week of sizable gains in consumer and wholesale prices, they still believe the price surge is temporary.

“Since we believe much of the acceleration in inflation will be transitory, we share the Fed’s view that this isn’t the start of an upward inflationary spiral,” said Mahir Rasheed, an economist at Oxford Economics. “We look for the pace of inflation to gradually cool heading into 2022.”

Camas Post Record

Camas-Washougal Historical Society’s annual plant sale this Saturday
Author: camaspost_admin

The Camas-Washougal Historical Society’s annual plant sale event will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 15, and Sunday, June 13 at Two Rivers Heritage Museum in Washougal.   

We work all spring to collect healthy plants from local gardens and yards and hold the event at our museum,” event organizer Alma Ladd said in a news release. “We see many familiar faces year after year who look forward to our great prices and unique items to add color or interest to their flowerbed and landscaping.”    

Plants for sale will include Solomon’s seal, forsythia, red hellebores, violets, Hosta lilies, pink and white peonies, small azaleas, rhododendrons, wildflowers, Camas lilies, and other native plants.

Social distancing and cleaning protocols will be in place, and volunteers will wear face coverings, according to the news release.

Camas to host virtual town hall June 14
Author: camaspost_admin

The city of Camas will host a virtual town hall at 6:30 p.m. June 14. 

Camas Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Burton said this is a unique opportunity for residents. 

“We’re inviting our community to join us for this important conversation,” Burton said. “Unlike council meetings, where we only listen to comments, this allows us to discuss your ideas, comments and concerns in the virtual town hall. We hope you participate.” 

Residents can ask questions live during the event or provide questions in advance.  

For advance questions, residents can either email publiccomments@cityofcamas.us or use the city’s new, online Engage Camas platform, under the “Mayor Barry McDonnell’s Q&A” section, by mentioning “Camas Town Hall” in the subject.

Like the current Camas City Council meetings, the town hall will take place on Zoom. Residents can log on at zoom.us/j/94538163839 and use the following webinar ID: 945 3816 3839. 

Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce names annual award recipients; will host banquet June 2

C-W Chamber of Commerce plans June 2 awards banquet

The Camas-Washougal Chamber will host its annual awards banquet honoring its 2021 Citizen of the Year, Businessperson of the Year, Teachers of the Year and local scholarship winners, on June 2, at Camas Meadows, 4105 N.W. Camas Meadows Drive, Camas. The event is open to the public, kicks off with a social hour at 5:30 p.m. and dinner beginning at 6:30 p.m., and costs $40 per person to attend. Tickets can be purchased at the Chamber office, at 422 N.E. Fourth Ave., in downtown Camas, between 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. To reserve a ticket, call 360-834-2472, or email jennifer@cwchamber.com.

The Chamber, in partnership with Riverview Community Bank, has selected Marquita Call, co-owner of the Camas Gallery in downtown Camas as its 2021 Businessperson of the Year; and Camas School Board member Doug Quinn as its 2021 Citizen of the Year. The group named all teachers in Camas and Washougal as its 2021 Teachers of the Year

The Chamber also will honor its 2021 college scholarship winners, Taylor Greenberg of Washougal High School and Joey Stanley of Camas High School, during the June 2 awards banquet.

In a news release, the Chamber said Greenberg and Stanley “were selected for their dedication to academics, extracurricular activities, sports, volunteerism and community involvement.”

Greenberg plans to attend Whitworth University in the fall of 2021, and pursue a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in education administration.

“Taylor’s positive experience at Camas schools and Washougal schools helped her develop a sense of community and love for education. She recognizes the importance of dedicated teachers and the true impacts that they have on their students’ lives,” the Chamber stated in the news release. “Her goal in life is to make a difference and change the world. She wants to teach kids in the Camas-Washougal community how to thrive both educationally and in life. She enjoys golf, basketball and dance.”

Stanley, plans to attend John Hopkins University in the fall of 2021 and pursue a degree in environmental engineering.

“Joey is a self-starting, diligent, creative problem-solver who is courteous and trustworthy. He is logical, mathematical, and physically capable. He values promptness, collaboration and is steady under pressure,” the Chamber stated in the news release. “Joey serves at the Camas High School (as student) government treasurer overseeing a $1 million fund. He received the WoHoLo Award, the highest award earned in Campfire USA, similar to the Eagle Scout award. His Science Olympiad team placed first in regionals in 2018, 2019 and 2020, and placed first in the state in 2018 and second in the state in 2019. Joey plays the flute and piano, and is an active fly fisherman involved with Clark Skamania Flyfishers Club.”

 

Camas parents rail against ‘woke agendas,’ masks in schools
Author: Kelly Moyer

More than 20 Camas-area residents — including the owner of a Washougal pediatric health clinic and several parents who have pulled their students out of public Camas schools — wrote letters and spoke at an in-person Camas School Board meeting on Monday, May 10, lambasting mask mandates and other COVID-19 safety measures; remote learning; racial justice and equity programs; and “woke agendas.”

“I no longer believe our children’s futures and educations are at the core and heart of the school board and district,” Kenric Thompson, who identified himself as a father of two children in the Camas School District, told Camas school board members Monday. “This is one of the reasons why I am pulling my daughter out of the school district.”

Thompson accused the school board and district leaders of “perpetuating woke agendas” including “critical race theory, pronouns, sexual education, politics and lobbying by the teachers unions, perpetual fear inside classrooms and ultimately enabling illiberal teachers to divide classrooms and target those children who do not agree with their viewpoints.”

Thompson focused on the district’s racial equity program, which he called “disgusting and shameful” and claimed is teaching Camas children “to be racist and judge each other based on the color of one’s skin.”

The school district ramped up its focus on equity issues in 2016, after hearing from several parents who were concerned about racist incidents happening inside the Camas School District. The district hosted a series of equity forums with students, parents, teachers and district administrators throughout 2018, and the school board adopted its new equity policy in October 2018.

The district’s equity policy examines how race, as well as gender, sexual identity, special education status and socioeconomic factors play into student equity and success. District leaders said then they will know they’ve achieved their equity goal “when the factors that predict any student’s success or opportunity are no longer correlated with any group identity.”

Several of the parents who spoke at the Monday night school board meeting and submitted written comments said they are concerned about “critical race theory,” an academic movement that originated with civil rights scholars in the 1970s that seeks to critically examine how social, cultural and legal issues relate to race and racism in American society.

Thompson said he believed critical race theory “is actually teaching children to be racist,” and accused the school board of “trying to introduce a woke, illiberal agenda.”

“We are not a racist country,” Thompson said, “and your liberal and divisive agendas are being pushed on our children and brainwashing them into thinking we should judge others based on a characteristic they cannot change.”

Thompson said everyone on the board who voted for the equity policy should “immediately resign.”

“The community is coming for you,” Thompson said. “You thought by hopping on the ‘woke train’ it would save all of you, but you had no idea about the sleeping giants that have been (awoken) by your illiberal push. We’re tired of these woke agendas ruining our schools and our children’s futures. And I can’t wait to see the board this next year, as it’s going to look very different if you keep this up.”

Dacey Thompson, a Camas mother of two, also spoke Monday night and said her children’s education “has been a joke over the last 14 months” due to COVID-19 restrictions that implemented remote, then hybrid and now four-days-a-week of in-person learning at Camas schools.

“Children are not affected by this virus,” she said. “My child’s right to fresh air does not stop at someone else’s fear … it is time to remove the mask to allow oxygen to get to their brains.”

According to a mid-April 2021 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, at least 297 children in the United States have died of COVID-19 and nearly 15,000 children have been hospitalized due to complications from the coronavirus.

Dacey Thompson accused the school board of “government overreach” that used “masks to keep people silent” and said she would not be allowing her children to continue attending Camas schools.

Like most of the speakers Monday night, neither of the Thompsons wore masks, despite a district policy requiring guests at in-person school board meetings to wear face coverings over their noses and mouths.

Camas School District Superintendent Jeff Snell later told the Post-Record “several people cited a medical note for not wearing their masks during the meeting” and said the district would review the state’s directive regarding masks at indoor meetings “and communicate that in our board meeting attendance requirements for future meetings.”

Snell added that some of the concerns shared Monday were frustrations with COVID-19 protocols that are established by state and county public health departments.

“This has been a challenging year with a lot of polarized views about how to navigate the pandemic and best serve our students,” Snell said. “Throughout the year, we’ve seen the protocols (for COVID-19 prevention) evolve based on the current situation with the pandemic. We expect that to continue and will stay up to date with them.”

Another parent, Kelsey Hartley, who said she had lived in Camas for about 10 years, said she also did not agree with the district’s equity policy.

“I do not agree with the new equity agenda,” Hartley said Monday. “As we all know, regardless of how much money you have or what your experience is, life will never be fair. It doesn’t matter what race you are, it will never be fair.”

Hartley said her chief concern was that she saw “buzzwords in the equity (policy) that sound like communism.”

“Social justice and Black Lives Matter as an organization we want to follow?” Hartley said. “Black Lives Matter is a misnomer. If they really cared about Black lives, there would be major unrest in the ghettos. This is like Chicago, L.A.”

“I know there have been horrible, abysmal things and behaviors of racism in our schools,” Hartley added. “However, I also feel that it is not going to work to try to make life fair for everybody. It’s impossible.”

Pediatric health practitioner claims he knows COVID cure, accuses board of ‘pure evil’

Scott Miller, a certified physician assistant who runs Miller Family Pediatrics in Washougal, was one of those who spoke out against masks and other COVID-19 safety protocols at the Monday evening school board meeting.

“I don’t know anybody that’s died (from COVID-19),” Miller said. “I’ve treated 350 COVID patients. Do you know there’s treatment? … I treat people every day. I had 90 COVID patients come into my clinic last month.”

Miller then falsely claimed ivermectin, a drug used to treat parasites in animals, as well as vitamin D and vitamin C were cures for the novel coronavirus that has killed nearly 600,000 Americans since March 2020. The European Medicines Agency and the United States Food and Drug Administration have both said the available data “does not support the drug’s use for COVID-19 outside of well-designed clinical trials.” Likewise, the World Health Organization has warned against using ivermectin for COVID-19. In February, the drug’s manufacturer, Merck & Co., Inc., stated it has found ivermectin has “no scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against COVID-19” as well as “a concerning lack of safety data in the majority of studies.”

In his comments to the school board on Monday, Miller said he has felt anger “every day” because of the Camas School District’s leaders and railed against the district’s requirement for students to wear masks during their in-person learning days.

“Do you not know what you’re teaching these kids or what you’re doing to them?” Miller asked. “Or do you know and you don’t care, which is nefarious and evil? It’s either gross negligence or pure, unadulterated evil.”

Miller also brought up an off-campus COVID-19 outbreak that impacted more than two dozen Camas High students and their close contacts and was linked to a student party where teens were socializing with their peers without masks.

Miller said he would talk to students in his pediatric practice about the outbreak and when they would tell him it was bad that their peers had broken COVID-19 safety protocols and gathered unmasked, he would pull out his phone and bring up photos of himself “hanging out with a bunch of buddies in Montana, skiing, in a bar with live music,” and say, “No, they’re doing exactly what kids should be doing: (being) engaged in life.”

Miller drew applause from the audience at the board meeting, and went on, saying he did not allow his own children to wear masks during the pandemic.

“I do not allow them to wear a mask,” Miller said. “I did not allow them to wear a mask when we went to the airport and got on a plane.”

The pediatric care provider added that he has been “begging and begging” parents to unenroll their students from Camas schools, reject COVID-19 safety protocols such as wearing face coverings in public and to “start acting normally, letting go of the fear-mongering.”

Other parents also spoke against the mask requirements for Camas students attending in-person classes. The district does offer fully remote learning options for all of its students.

Geri Rubano, of Camas, said she was speaking for her son, a Camas student.

“Mask wearing presents severe risk of harm and should not be required for children,” Rubano told the school board on Monday.

Rubano compared the district’s mask-wearing policy to “forced medical experiments performed on human subjects without express permission,” and said she did not consent to her son “or any child in this district” being masked.

“Shame on you,” Rubano, who slid her mask down around her chin while speaking, told the board before walking away to applause and cheers from the crowd gathered inside the district’s board room on Monday.

Camas School Board President Tracey Malone said the school board will not change its policy regarding its requirement to wear masks at the in-person board meetings.

“If community members are unable to wear a mask, even for medical reasons, we will ask that they view a live feed of our meeting outside of the board room and submit public comment in writing,” Malone told the Post-Record on Tuesday.

Malone added that the school district does not implement critical race theory into its curriculum.

“Our focus on equity is the mission of the district to see and serve each student,” she explained. “Talking about student experiences and owning our responsibility as a district to better serve students can be uncomfortable but we want to be clear that conversations in the classroom around historical racism or systemic racism doesn’t correlate to a curriculum.”

“We understand that critical race theory is an academic movement focusing on systemic racism and we do not have curriculum based on this movement,” Malone added. “Our equity policy, approved in 2016, is about eliminating the predictors and barriers to student achievement. We hold several equity forums throughout the year.”

The district will host its next equity forum in the fall of 2021, Malone said.

COVID-19 rates continue to climb

After the 55-minute public comment period on Monday, Snell gave his superintendents report.

“Unfortunately, (COVID-19 transmission) rates are going up,” Snell said.

On Tuesday, Clark County Public Health reported a rate of new COVID cases of 276.6 per 100,000 residents, up from 110 cases per 100,000 residents in early April.

Snell said though the state has given clear guidance on how school districts could reopen classrooms as COVID-19 transmission rates fell, the guidance for what to do when students are already in the classrooms but community COVID rates are climbing is less clear.

“At this point, there are not a lot of recommendations for transitioning out (of a low or moderate COVID activity rate),” Snell said Monday.

He said district staff are not recommending making another transition, possibly going back to a more restrictive hybrid learning model, “at this point.”

“We would love to have the rates go down,” Snell said. “We continue to remind our community to wear masks, distance and do the things that help our students remain in class.”

Snell added that “another wild card” was the FDA’s announcement this week that it has approved the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 15 in addition to all people age 16 and older.

With that announcement, several people in the audience cried out “no” and “not approved” and “experimental” in regard to the COVID-19 vaccines.

Snell said district leaders continue to “recognize the importance of minimizing transmission for students and staff,” and urged the school board to think about what in-person learning will look like when students return in the fall for the start of the 2021-22 school year.

Board member Connie Hennessey said she would like district staff to look into possibilities surrounding the district’s requirement that masks be worn during recess and while children are outdoors.

Malone said the board “continues to strongly encourage and enforce masks inside schools,” and said, if COVID-19 rates continue to climb in Clark County, “it could be necessary to return back to our hybrid model and/or cohorting of students.”

To view the May 10 school board meeting, visit bit.ly/33xSd3R.

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