Reykdal: Teachers should be vaccinated or fired
State schools leader says students are otherwise at risk
Last updated 8/12/2021 at 5:23pm
OLYMPIA - As 9th Legislative District parents are demanding Gov. Jay Inslee rescind his public student mask rules, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal is calling on the governor to require teachers be vaccinated.
In an Aug. 12 letter, Reykdal says he is "strongly encouraging" the governor to require public school employees be vaccinated against the Wuhan coronavirus as a condition of employment.
"I am strongly encouraging you to issue an executive order requiring all employees working in public K–12 schools to get their vaccination against COVID-19 as a condition of employment," Reykdal wrote, noting the mandate would be consistent with the governor's Aug. 9 order requiring all other state employees and health care workers to get the inoculation.
According to Reykdal, students are facing a "real threat" of losing more classroom time if teachers and other public school employees are forced to be vaccinated.
" In consulting with several of our partners and stakeholders in K–12 education, I was told unequivocally that if you are going to make the decision to require the vaccine for school employees, it will make a significant difference if that decision is made as soon as possible," he wrote. "Our school districts are making staffing decisions for fall and negotiating agreements with their labor partners now. Providing districts with as much notice as possible will help to ensure a smoother implementation..."
Reykdal went on to suggest the governor set a specific date for teachers and other public school employees to be fully vaccinated or face "non-disciplinary dismissal from employment."
The state superintendent said he believes all public school employees and teachers should provide official proof of vaccination.
As the letter was being sent to the governor Thursday, parents in the 9th Legislative District were preparing for a large anti-mask rally at Liberty High School, just outside Spangle.
Republicans Sen. Mark Schoesler of Ritzville and Reps. Mary Dye of Pomeroy and Joe Schmick of Colfax were expected to be among those at the protest, in which parents were calling for an immediate end to coronavirus-related masking orders for students.
All three lawmakers represent the 9th Legislative District, which includes Adams, Asotin, Franklin, Garfield, Whitman and southern Spokane Counties.