PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The superintendent of public schools in Washington has asked the governor to require teachers and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
In a letter sent to Gov. Jay Inslee, Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal called for the same vaccine requirement Inslee issued for most state workers and private sector healthcare workers.
On Monday, Inslee announced state executive branch employees and on-site contractors and volunteers, as well as public and private healthcare and long-term care workers, must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18. He said a person’s final shot in a vaccine series would have to be obtained no later than Oct. 4 in order to meet the deadline.
Exemptions from the mandate are allowed for those with certain disabilities or sincerely held religious beliefs.
Reykdal on Friday called for teachers and other school staff K-12 to fall under the same requirements. He said the driving factor behind his request is keeping kids in the classroom this year and avoiding shutdowns as COVID cases surge due to the delta variant.
The state teachers’ union in Washington said it supports the vaccine requirement if public health experts recommend it.
KOIN 6 News asked the Oregon Department of Education about a possible vaccine requirement and received the following statement:
“The Oregon Health Authority, governor’s office and Oregon Department of Education are in constant dialogue on how to keep students, staff and communities safe. There are no immediate plans for a statewide vaccination requirement for teachers.”
The head of the Portland Teachers Union said they will be surveying members about a mandate and meeting with the superintendent next week to discuss safety.