This week on “The Impact”: OSPI Chris Reykdal and Rep. Alex Ybarra (R-Quincy) debate vaccine mandates, COVID safety measures, and the new school year.
With the start of school the clock is ticking for teachers and state employees to get fully vaccinated or risk losing their jobs. On August 9th democratic Governor Jay Inslee announced that state employees, private and public sector health care and long term care personnel would be required to be fully vaccinated by October 18th, 2021 or face termination from their jobs.
On August 18th Inslee extended the requirement to cover teachers and staff at public and private K-12 schools as well as colleges and universities.
At an August 18th press conference Inslee said, “Now the school year is imminent. The pandemic disease levels are extremely high and are exploding across our state. Unfortunately this is a reality we must face We can go back to the painful days of closing businesses and schools or we can use the known effective and safe tools at our disposal to keep our schools and our businesses in operation.”
Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal requested the mandate for K-12 teachers and staff.
“We’ve always had a vaccine requirement for students. They’ve got more than half a dozen required to go to school,” said Reykdal. “This has created such havoc in terms of sickness, impacts on our hospital system and obviously the loss of life in our state, over 6000 have lost their lives, it just causes us to act differently. This isn’t anything like we’ve seen before. So a vaccine requirement at this time to keep kids safe and fellow staff members safe is the right move.”
Ranking Member on the House Education Committee, Representative Alex Ybarra (R-Quincy) disagrees with the governor’s vaccine mandate approach.
“I’ve had COVID. I’ve been vaccinated because I chose to. I think it’s just a choice thing. It’s not up to the government to tell us what to do on many cases and I think this is one of the cases that we shouldn’t mandate something like this,” said Ybarra. “I think that because the Delta virus is going so strong, people that were on the fence are starting to get it, I think that’s what’s happening, but when the mandate came through, when the Governor said his mandate, all of a sudden all these people that I’ve been talking to that said I’m on the fence, I’m kind of waiting it out a little bit, waiting him out a little bit, they basically said after the mandate came out what they said was we’re not going to do it.“