State mandates vaccination of school system employees and extends mask wear indoors

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by Elizabeth Turnbull


On Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Jay Inslee announced a vaccination mandate for K-12 educators and workers, an extension of the mandate for indoor masks, and a vaccination requirement for people in nursing homes. state higher education and mostly childcare providers.

Similar to Inslee’s Aug. 9 announcement, which states that most state employees must be fully immunized by Oct. 18 in order to keep their jobs, the governor today extended that requirement to educators in the Kindergarten to Grade 12, school staff, coaches and bus drivers. , school volunteers and other people working in schools, who will have until the same date to be completely vaccinated or lose their jobs.

“We have children under the age of twelve who cannot be vaccinated,” Health Secretary Umair A. Shah told a press conference on Wednesday. “The challenge we have encountered is that when kids go to school and they are not vaccinated, masking is really one of your tools, but the other tool we have is adults. around these children. [being vaccinated]. “

The requirement applies to public, private and charter schools, but does not impact students and does not include tribal schools. While some people with medical or religious issues may have some leeway, the options for evading the warrant are limited and most people who refuse to comply with the warrant will be fired.

Union negotiations are also limited to negotiating time off to receive the vaccine or to recover from the symptoms of the vaccine. The vast majority of people who leave their jobs because they do not receive the vaccine will not be eligible for unemployment benefits, according to Governor Inslee.

Around the world, officials and civilians have raised questions about the ethics of compulsory vaccination as vaccine hesitation persists and the threat of the delta variant increases.

Amid divergent views on immunization mandates and the extent to which they should be carried out, government officials have not always resorted to mandates that threaten layoffs. Close. Joe Biden announced on July 29 that all federal employees and contractors must be fully immunized against the novel coronavirus, however, he offered cash incentives and the alternative of regular testing as other options.

So far, employees of the state’s education system have not had to disclose their immunization status. Based on informal assessments, Washington Superintendent of Education Chris Reykdal said on Wednesday he was confident more than 70% of certified school system staff were vaccinated statewide. Currently, it has estimated that around 40,000 to 50,000 of the state’s education system employees and contract workers have still not been vaccinated.

On Wednesday, Inslee also announced that staff, faculty, and contractors at Washington higher education institutions, as well as most of the child care and early learning providers who care for children many households must also be fully immunized by October 18. This includes licensed workers, certified and contracted early learning and child care programs, and workers in licensed exempt learning, child care and youth development programs, in addition to sub. -treaters like coaches, volunteers, trainers.

While the new year and vaccines have brought hope for a mask-free city, Inslee is also expanding the existing mandate of indoor masks statewide to apply to those vaccinated throughout. indoors from Monday, August 23, and the health ministry is urging people to wear masks in crowded outdoor spaces as well.

“We know that the masks will help lessen the threat of chaos in our lives. It’s going to help us turn the corner and eradicate this virus to some extent, ”Governor Jay Inslee said on Wednesday. “But we have to be clear: at the end of the day, there is a way out of this process and that is through vaccination, and the sooner we realize the sooner we will get it in a manageable situation.”


Elizabeth turnbull is a journalist with reporting experience in the United States and the Middle East. She has a passion to cover human-centric issues and to do so in a consistent manner.

?? Featured Image: Governor Jay Inslee speaks. (Photo: Emeraude archives)

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