Governor Inslee mandates all school district employees receive COVID vaccination
District unveils plan to support employees in meeting new state requirement
Wednesday, August 18 Governor Jay Inslee directed all public, charter and private PK-12 educators, school staff, coaches, bus drivers, and school volunteers be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by Oct. 18. The requirement also applies to most childcare, early learning and higher education settings. The process does allow for medical or religious exemptions. This proclamation does not include vaccine requirements for students.
During the same August 18 announcement, Governor Inslee also reinstituted indoor mask requirements statewide, effective Monday, August 23. Masks will be required to be worn indoors at all district schools and facilities regardless of vaccination status.
“This virus is increasingly impacting young people, and those under the age of 12 still can’t get the vaccine for themselves,” said Governor Inslee during his press conference. “We won’t gamble with the health of our children, our educators and school staff, nor the health of the communities they serve.”
Immediately following the announcement, Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith reviewed the directive from the Governor’s Office and additional information released from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. He consulted with Walla Walla Valley Education Association and Public School Employees union leadership, and coordinated with the Walla Walla County Department of Community Health to develop a plan to maximize vaccine availability opportunities for staff in order to meet the tight deadline.
“None of us want to see classrooms, sports teams or schools quarantine or revert back to distance learning,” said Superintendent Smith. “We are excited to welcome all students back, full time this fall. This statewide vaccine requirement is one additional measure state officials feel will help keep our kids in the classroom, on the courts and on our stages.”
The statewide announcement identified that local school boards and district leadership do not have the ability to modify the executive order. “We are legally required to follow the Governor’s directive and our School Board and I are committed to doing what we can to support staff to meet the vaccination deadline or request a medical or religious exemption,” noted Smith.
Walla Walla Public Schools has coordinated with local Department of Health officials to maximize vaccine opportunities for employees so they can either pre-register or simply “walk in” and receive a vaccine. Superintendent Smith is working in collaboration with district administrators and union leadership to ensure all staff have the necessary information, timelines and support to meet these new state requirements.
Additional New State Vaccine Requirement Sources:
August 18 Governor Inslee Educator Vaccination Requirement Announcement