Inslee announces educator vaccine requirements, indoor mask mandate

Coronavirus

Superintendent Reykdal wants teachers, staff to be vaccinated

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Governor Jay Inslee on Wednesday announced a new vaccine requirement for employees working in K-12 schools, most childcare and early learning and higher education in Washington.

Inslee also reinstated the statewide indoor mask mandate to everyone, regardless of vaccination status. The mask mandate goes into effect on Monday. There are certain exemptions, such as “office spaces not easily accessible to the public where individuals are vaccinated, and when working alone indoors or in a vehicle with no public face-to-face interaction. Small, private indoor gatherings where all attendees are vaccinated are also exempt.

Educator vaccine requirement

  • K -12 educators, school staff, coaches, bus drivers, school volunteers and others working in school facilities will have until October 18 to be fully vaccinated as a condition of employment.
  • The requirement includes public, private and charter schools, and comes as schools across the state prepare to return for the 2021-2022 school year amid rapidly increasing case and hospitalization numbers. It does not include tribal schools.
  • This does not impact students, regardless of age.
  • As with state employees and private healthcare workers, there will be no test out option.
  • Unions may bargain with school districts to negotiate time off to receive the vaccine or recover from symptoms of the vaccine.
  • Just like the state worker mandate, there are limited exceptions under law which employees may apply for, including legitimate medical reasons and sincerely held religious beliefs. Individuals who refuse to get vaccinated will be subject to dismissal.

Higher education and childcare/early learning requirement

  • The governor will also announce a vaccine requirement for employees in Washington’s higher education institutions, as well as for most childcare and early learning providers who serve children from multiple households.
  • Education staff, faculty and contractors are required to be fully vaccinated by October 18, consistent with the state worker vaccination requirement timeline.
  • Childcare providers affected by the requirement include the following groups
    • Licensed, certified and contracted early learning and childcare programs
    • License-exempt early learning, childcare and youth-development programs
    • Contractors (coaches, volunteers, trainers, etc.)
  • Not included in this mandate are providers delivering FFN (family, friends and neighbors) care.

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