As summer is waning and back-to-school is upon us, WEA continues to monitor updates to fall COVID requirements and to advocate for the well-being of our students, our communities, and ourselves. On Aug. 18, Gov. Inslee announced a new requirement that PK-12 and higher education educators be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18. This requirement mirrors his orders for state employees and includes the same exemptions for religious and health concerns. Read governor's proclamation.
According to NEA, about 90% of educators are already vaccinated. For WEA members who are, you have met the requirement already. For those who aren't, we recommend that if you can, you initiate vaccination as soon as possible. Information about applying for exemptions for those who qualify should be coming from your employers soon.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, WEA has supported following the science and implementing the recommendations of public health experts to reduce the spread of COVID. Nearly 18 months after COVID first closed our schools for two weeks, we are all sad and angry that we are still fighting this virus. If the medical and public health experts say the vaccine is safe and effective and that a vaccine requirement is the next best step to take to mitigate COVID risks for our students, educators, and communities, WEA will support that directive.
The decision to create this vaccine requirement was made by the governor with input from the state Department of Health and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Although locals associations cannot bargain for or against the requirement, they can bargain the impact of this requirement.
See related: FAQ from OSPI on COVID-19 vaccine requirement for K-12 school employees