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WEA vaccine recommendations

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Health Virus

The WEA Board of Directors passed a resolution Jan. 12 stating that all educators working in school or higher education facilities should have access to both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. This applies to those currently working on-site and to those before returning to in-person settings. The Board rejected the state Health Department's recommendation that age should be a determining factor for when educators receive the vaccine, noting that anyone who is working on-site is at risk.

WEA has said, and continues to say, that our members want to be working in-person with students but conditions must be safe. Access to vaccines, along with implementation of state Labor and Industries (L&I) workplace health and safety requirements, are two critical steps in creating safer schools for educators and students participating in in-person teaching and learning.

The WEA Board resolution includes several key elements.

  • Prioritize vaccine access for all PK-12 and higher education educators who work in school facilities. This includes classified, certificated, full-time, part-time, and substitute employees and those in training to be the same. Those working on-site already should be prioritized and for those returning to in-person instruction should receive both doses prior to working on-site.
  • Recognize the disproportionate impact COVID has had on communities of color, and the current and historical abuses of those same groups that may lead to reluctance to get vaccinated. The resolution asks the state to prepare a medically based information campaign to address these concerns.
  • Ensure equitable access to the vaccine for educators in rural communities.
  • Create vaccine distribution plans that address the above issues so that vaccines are available to all educators who are working with students in-person and who want them.
  • Given the uncertainty of when vaccines will be available, districts must continue to bargain with their local associations to address and solve inequities created by online learning.

The policy encourages vaccines to be available to all educators working on-site, but does not mandate them. As is the case with other COVID-related issues, the details of how vaccines and L&I requirements are implemented must be negotiated at the local level with individual school districts.

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