Washington educators risk losing jobs if they refuse COVID vaccination

In-person instruction depends on low transmission rates of virus, state superintendent says
By: | August 19, 2021
A school staff member in the Phoenix Union High School District in Arizona gets vaccinated earlier this year.A school staff member in the Phoenix Union High School District in Arizona gets vaccinated earlier this year.

All teachers, K-12 administrators and other school personnel in Washington could lose their jobs if they don’t get vaccinated for COVID within the next two months.

There is no way to opt-out of the mandate, which comes with a deadline of Oct. 18, but unions can bargain with districts to give school staff time to get vaccinated or recover from any side effects, Inslee announced at a press conference Wednesday.

“This virus is increasingly impacting young people, and those under the age of 12 still can’t get the vaccine for themselves,” Inslee said. “We won’t gamble with the health of our children, our educators and school staff, nor the health of the communities they serve.”

Educators and staff members who refuse to get vaccinated will be subject to dismissal, Inslee said, noting that COVID hospitalizations are increasing rapidly in his state.

“Our ability to maintain continued in-person learning without major COVID-related disruptions will depend on low virus transmission within our schools,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal added.

Inslee also imposed an indoor mask mandate for the entire state. Washington in recent days broke its previous record for COVID hospitalizations, which was set in December. There is substantial or high transmission of COVID in each of Washington’s 35 counties.