Lawmaker calls on Inslee to rescind mask edict
Rep. Schmick, who represents Franklin County, joined by 24 other Republicans
Last updated 8/11/2021 at 9:04am
COLFAX — A local state lawmaker is calling on the governor to rescind his order requiring public school students to wear masks on campus.
Ninth Legislative District Rep. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, wrote a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday, Aug. 9, calling for him to back off the gubernatorial mandate. In addition, 24 other Republicans signed onto the letter.
The 9th Legislative District includes Adams, Asotin, Franklin, Garfield, Whitman and southern Spokane Counties.
Citing the state Department of Health and the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Schmick suggested the governor’s mask edict lacks a scientific basis.
Inslee reaffirmed his mask mandate for everyone on public school campuses during a Monday, Aug. 9, press coference.
“As mentioned by your public health official during the press conference, the risk of breakthrough is low, and the main drive of transmission is from unvaccinated individuals,” the letter said. “For those students who are not vaccinated, either because they are too young or otherwise, the risk COVID-19 presents to children is extremely low.”
The letter noted that only 0.16% of Wuhan coronavirus deaths are individuals younger than 19.
“Hospitalizations are statistically miniscule,” the letter said.
The letter asked the governor to focus on education rather than his mask mandate when it comes to schools.
According to the letter, masks are a hardship on everyone in schools.
“The bottom line is we need to focus on what’s best for students. They have already faced extensive learning loss, significant mental and behavioral health issues, and more,” the letter said. “Masks take away from students being able to learn effectively…
“Masks interrupt learning, speech and language development, and can also further isolate students who are already struggling. “
The letter calls on the governor to rescind his statewide mandate and instead let parents or local school officials decide if putting students in masks is appropriate.
“As you mention in your proclamation, student/parental choice must be respected,” the letter said. “For parents who do not want their kids to suffer with masks, the only option left is to homeschool.
The letter notes that state Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal is threatening to take constitutionally protected moneys away from school districts refusing to order masks.
“Should those education dollars be withheld from schools, I believe the state would face further litigation,” the letter said.
Republicans signing onto Schmick’s letter include Jenny Graham, R-Spokane; Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake, Mike Volz, R-Spokane, Matt Boehnke, R-Kennewick, Rob Chase, R-Spokane Valley, Bob McCaslin, R-Spokane Valley, Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy, and others.
The letter comes as parents in the district are readying for a 6:30 p.m. “Take Our Schools Back” rally Thursday, Aug. 12, at Liberty High School.
The school is located on East Spangle Waverly Road, east of Spangle.
Schmick, Dye and Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, are all expected at the rally. Both Dye and Schoesler also represent the 9th Legislative District.
The protest in the football stadium will focus on eliminating any mask requirement for students.