CAMAS VALLEY — In a cold, shadowy cafeteria, about 80 people associated with Camas Valley Charter School came together for soup, chili and camaraderie.
The power in Camas Valley went off during the first night of the snowstorm and has remained off for more than a week, leaving many to seek out the hot lunch at the school.
“We came to see some different faces and reconnect,” Kayla Wright said.
Her family has been living with relatives since Monday, coming back to their home in Camas Valley once a day to feed the cats, and hoping for the power to come back on.
“We need to have school as soon as possible,” Superintendent Patrick Lee said. Students at the charter have missed six days of school so far.
One way the school hopes to get back some of the instructional time that was lost is by asking the Oregon Department of Education for an allowance to miss the Smarter Balanced tests.
“They say they value education over testing, so I’ll poke the bear and see if they really mean it,” Lee said. The Smarter Balanced test take nearly a week for each student to complete and are used as an assessment tool for educators and administrators.
Camas Valley Charter School typically has classes Monday through Thursday, but Friday classes will be added for March 15 and April 26. Lee is also hoping to come to an agreement with the teachers’ union to allow instruction on May 3 and May 17, days that were set aside for teacher in-service days.
Since the week lost at school was literacy week, those events have been rescheduled for the week of March 11.
“A lot of kids eat breakfast and lunch and I’m worried if they’re eating,” substitute teacher Treva Wright-Quinn said.
Mary Bringhurst and Angela Hooker helped organize Tuesday’s luncheon and were able to get some donations from local businesses with almost no notice.
“The community does a good job pulling together,” Bringhurst said, adding that several of the high school students went around with chain saws in the days after the storm to help cut down big branches.
The school building was mostly unharmed by the storm, although maintenance was working to remove all broken branches from the school property.
Power is expected to return to the town before the end of the week, but outlying areas may be without power for several more weeks.
“Once we have power here (at the school) and people need a shower or a place for comfort, we want to facilitate them,” Lee said. “If we have power we want to help.”
But during Tuesday’s meeting, the slow cookers were powered by a generator and people wore big winter coats to stay warm.
Notifications from the charter school on closures or delays will also start to come later, as administrators hope the power will return to town in just a matter of days.