South Snohomish County superintendents ask governor to prioritize COVID-19 vaccines for school staff

Superintendents of the Edmonds, Everett and Mukilteo school districts have asked Gov. Jay Inslee to move school staff up in the state’s COVID-19 vaccination timeline to assist with the districts’ efforts to bring students back into the classroom.

Under the state’s existing guidance for Phase B1, school employees 50 years old and older will be eligible for vaccines starting in February. A larger group of educators would not qualify until April, under Phase B4.

The Jan. 13 letter, signed by Mukilteo School District Superintendent Alison Brynelson, Edmonds School District Superintendent Gustavo Balderas and Everett Public Schools Superintendent Ian Saltzman, notes that a typical elementary classroom teacher “will, at a minimum, be in a classroom with more than 10 students for several hours each day and be exposed to their ‘contact bubbles’ of potential exposure. Office and support staff also deal directly with many students and sometimes their family members each day.

“Even with robust health and safety measures to minimize spread of the virus, many staff are understandably feeling nervous and some school staff will not return to school until they are vaccinated,” the letter continued. “That will make staffing and re-opening schools extremely difficult, if not impossible. Yet our students and community depend on us to offer in-person learning to those who most need it.” 

The letter has the support of the Edmonds Education Association, which represents the Edmonds School District’s approximately 1,200 teachers. “EEA absolutely believe that educators should be prioritized for vaccines,” President Andi Nofziger said. “Educators want to return to in-building learning as soon as it is safe to do so.  One part of this safety plan is for all school district employees to have the option of receiving both doses of the vaccine before returning to in-building learning and services.”

The board of the Washington Education Association, the statewide teachers union, passed a resolution earlier this week that encouraged “widespread use of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccinations,” adding that vaccine plans should prioritize educators. “The State Department of Health, OSPI, and the Governor’s Office must assist in getting a sufficient supply of vaccine to school districts to ensure all current school district employees who are working in-person with students have the option of receiving the vaccine immediately,” the resolution stated.

“Educators want to return to in-building learning as soon as it is safe to do so,” the resolution continued. “One part of this safety plan is for all school district employees to have the option of receiving both doses of the vaccine before returning to in-building learning and services.”

You can see the complete superintendents’ letter below:

 

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