EAST WENATCHEE — Eastmont School District is feeling the pinch of the pandemic in the form of staffing shortages as employees stay home after exposure to COVID or other related situations.

Superintendent Garn Christensen outlined the situation in a Sept. 13 message to the community posted on Facebook.

At the time, Eastmont had 12 staff members out due to COVID, according to the COVID chart that accompanied the message, which also showed 255 students out of class with COVID concerns.

This week, Eastmont’s COVID chart showed 15 staff members and 349 students out due to COVID.

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Garn Christensen

Eastmont superintendent

“This is about as challenging as we’ve seen it since this started. I think our region is known for a lot of things, but we’re also a regional medical center,” Christensen said to The World. “I’m just wanting everyone to understand why we’re being so cautious on our campuses. We really don’t want to become a transmission site and compound the problem our medical services are already having in the valley.”

Christensen said opinions vary on how best to deal with the pandemic, but he reminds people that Eastmont is a public entity and must abide by state rules and regulations.

“When we choose to drive on public roads, there are certain rules that go with those. When we choose to ride on public transportation, there are rules on those,” Christensen said. “When you choose to attend college, rules are pretty common. It’s worked well for us.”

Eastmont is working to offer daily on-campus services to students, but is just barely keeping up, he said.

“We need your help to help us meet compliance requirements, but also be understanding when lines are long, messages don’t always get returned as fast as usual, or unusual things might happen,” Christensen said via Facebook.

Eastmont continues to comply with and implement COVID safeguards as issued by the governor, state Department of Health, and Chelan-Douglas Health District, he said.

“Though difficult, our strict compliance is protecting our workforce and allowing us to continue to provide on-campus services and activities. This would not be possible if it were not for the cooperation of employees, students, parents, and visitors,” Christensen said via Facebook.

Christensen or his designee post to the Eastmont School District Facebook page every Monday. It started last November so the school district could keep parents informed on the various COVID-19 phases.

The messages go out on Facebook, email or text through a program called Parent’s Square. It goes out to 7,000 parents, students and community members, he said.

“It’s part of our emergency messaging system. When we were trying to figure out how to return kids last fall and we were phasing them in — rather than field hundreds of questions every week, we use this,” Christensen said.

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Ian Dunn: (509) 664-7157

dunn@wenatcheeworld.com