Submitted by Lewis County Public Health & Social Services

Urgent planning in an environment of close cooperation was the guiding principle at the first meeting of the Lewis County Schools Workgroup on Monday, August 24, 2020. Representatives from Lewis County public schools, local pediatricians, and Lewis County Public Health & Social Services (LCPHSS) met for 90 minutes.

LCPHSS Director J.P. Anderson characterized the meeting as, “an opportunity for everyone to use creativity and flexibility to discusses the risks and impacts of in-person instructions for our kids.”

Group members include superintendents of large and small schools from across the county, local pediatricians with expertise and interest in risks to children, the Lewis County Health Officer, and other LCPHSS staff.

Centralia School District Superintendent Lisa Grant said after the meeting, “I am honored to participate and thankful for the opportunity to work collaboratively to meet the needs of our students and our community. I am confident that working together, we will be able to address the current situation and anything that comes our way.”

Anderson said issues raised that will be discussed further include what health metrics will help guide decisions on bringing back students as quickly and safely as possible, inherent disparities with virtual learning environments, and the consequences to children of not being in school.

Dr. Jennifer Polley of Northwest Pediatric Center, one of the pediatricians in the group, said, “We count it a privilege and are excited to work with our health department and schools to meet the common goal of getting our kids back to the ‘essential’ work of school in a way that’s the safest for all involved.”

This was the first of what will be weekly meetings of the group.

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