Educators and school faculty urge Gov. Inslee to vaccinate them

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OLYMPIA, Wash. — As Washington Gov. Jay Inslee pushes for in-person education to resume throughout the state, school employees are concerned for their health and wellbeing.

Today, a letter was issued to Gov. Inslee by Executive Directors from four organizations: The Association of Washington School Principals (AWSP), Washington Association of School Business Officials (WASBO), Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) and Washington State School Directors’ Association (WSSDA).

Inslee’s current coronavirus regulations state that school employees age 50 and older should be eligible for vaccinations in February. Other school employees aren’t expected to be vaccinated until April at the earliest.

With that in mind, Washington educators and school employees are pleading for Gov. Inslee to accelerate the vaccinations of their group.

“We acknowledge the need to prioritize vaccines for older Washingtonians and strongly believe that educators should be equally prioritized with older Washingtonians, especially considering the essential service they provide,” the letter said. “This will allow more of our schools the opportunity to provide in-person instruction during the 2020-21 school year. Getting students back into our school buildings will allow educators to better address students’ academic needs and mental and emotional health, while allowing parents to work and contribute to our economy.”

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School districts throughout Washington state are preparing to introduce students back to classrooms. In the Tri-Cities, many students are expected to be back for in-person learning by the end of the month.

For at-risk school employees and those who live with family members who are at-risk, returning to school without COVID-19 immunity poses a grave danger.

The Washington Department of Health (DOH) has created specific guidelines for schools to follow when re-introducing students. However, there’s only so much you can do to prevent community spread with students, teachers and faculty interacting in-person.

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This coincides with the discovery that President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed depleted the national reserve of Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine dosages. Finding the resources to vaccinate anyone will be difficult for Gov. Inslee and the DOH over the coming weeks.

Regardless, school is going to resume in the near-future and educators are preparing themselves to face these new challenges.

Four individuals signed this letter on the behalf of their organizations: Scott Seaman (AWSP), Brianne King (WASBO), Tim Garchow(WSSDA) and Joel Aune (WASA).

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