(CMR) All K-12 teachers and staff in Washington state, including public, private, and charter school employees, could be fired if they aren't fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 18.
Governor for the state Jay Inslee issued the mandate last week, which also applies to higher education institutions and most child care facilities in the state.
According to NRP, Washington now has stricter and more decisive requirements than many other places in the United States. Mask mandates have proven divisive in Florida, Arizona, and Texas, where school boards, parents, and state governments are clashing over who gets to decide requirements.
“This is a serious issue. This is not some suggestion or whimsical idea we're floating. It is a job requirement,” Inslee said.
Washington's mandate is wide-ranging: It applies to anyone working in a school environment, including bus drivers, coaches, and volunteers, NRP reported.
Employees who don't comply could be subjected to dismissal. The governor said exemptions for religious or medical reasons would be allowed, but “personal or philosophical exemptions” aren't acceptable.
The order will likely affect about 118,000 workers in early-learning and child care programs, and about 90,000 employees in higher education institutions.
In Washington, the spread of the delta variant is driving up infection rates. As of August 9, Washington averaged 2,665 cases per day, and Inslee reports more than 95% of COVID-related hospitalizations in the state are among unvaccinated people.