All Washington State School Staff Immunized Against COVID by March 1

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On January 11, 2021, the leaders of Washington State's Committees for Education and Early Learning wrote a bipartisan letter to Jay Inslee, the Governor of Washington State, and Dr. Umair Shjah, Secretary of Health for Washington State, asking that public school teachers and other employees receive access to the COVID-19 vaccines during February 2021. Superintendents from two of the largest school districts in SW Washington, Vancouver and Evergreen Public Schools, independently requested the same relief for all educators and staff statewide. 

Recently, the governor modified State guidance for schools which has tripled the number of students who can return to school. Many educators and parents are alarmed and do not feel safe enough to return to in-person instruction. There are also students experiencing challenges with remote learning, and families struggling to support their students with resources such as consistent broadband Internet. 

Vaccinating school staff is a step forward to restoring confidence for families to return to school. It is vital to the health and well being of Washington State families we reopen to vaccinated schools with ample services to support returning students. However in the State, vaccinations are not planned for all school staff until April! 

Under the State's plan for vaccinations, only teachers and staff over the age of 50 will be eligible in "Phase 1-B2", that is, February. Remaining school staff, many with preexisting conditions, are not eligible for vaccination until months later. 

Safety guidelines, personal protection equipment, and maintaining small groups will help, but it is not enoughVaccinating all school staff is essential to increasing in-person capacity in schools by preventing serious illness and reducing staffing shortages from quarantines and sick leave.

Vaccinating ALL of our teachers, paraeducators, and support will help end the worst public health crisis in a century.  

Governor Inslee and Secretary Shah must change the plan to include all Pre-K through 12 educators and school staff in Phase 1-B2, for vaccination in February. Doing so will save lives, add confidence, and support children.