Portland Association of Teachers supports governor's mask mandate in K-12 schools this fall

Image: KPTV

OLYMPIA, WA (KPTV) - Washington state's superintendent of public instruction is asking Gov. Jay Inslee to require COVID-19 vaccinations for K-12 public school employees before the start of the new school year. 

State Superintendent Chris Reykdal made his request in a letter sent to Inslee's office, followed by a press conference on Friday morning. 

"With the continued increase in cases of COVID-19 across our state due to the highly contagious Delta variant, students losing precious time learning in-person with their educators and peers because of quarantine or, potentially, school building closures is a real threat," Reykdal said in the letter. "Especially after a year and a half of remote and hybrid learning, a continuity of in-person instruction will be more important this year than ever."

Reykdal said the mandate should come sooner than later to give teachers and staff time to be fully inoculated before the new school year begins. He is not requesting a vaccine requirement for students who are eligible. 

Inslee has mandated COVID-19 vaccines for health care workers and thousands of state employees, but the mandates have not been extended to public school staff. 

In Oregon, similar vaccine requirements are in place for health care workers and most state employees, but not for public school staff. 

Inslee's office told Q13 News that there are no plans to announce a vaccine mandate for K-12 employees. 

Parents in Clackamas County are pushing back against mask mandates for schools and vaccine requirements for state employees. 

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