2:38 PM: Two weeks from today, it’s the first day of school for many students in our state, including most Seattle Public Schools students. But while summer vacation is almost over, the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. So today Gov. Inslee is having a media briefing about the pandemic response, joined by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal and Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah, You can watch it above; we’ll add notes here as it goes.
2:42 PM: He’s expanding vaccination requirements among (updated) education employees.
K -12 educators, staff, coaches, bus drivers, volunteers and others working in school facilities will have until Oct. 18 to be fully vaccinated as a condition of employment. This includes public, private and charter schools. This does not impact students, regardless of age.
— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) August 18, 2021
He’s also ordering mask-wearing in indoor public settings, statewide, regardless of vaccination status, starting Monday, for Washington residents age 5+. This is because, Inslee declares, not enough people are getting vaccinated.
2:51 PM: Superintendent Reykdal says the vaccination requirements are necessary because they want to keep schools open. “If we do not do this and we have to shut schools down again this year … students are impacted and jobs are impacted.”
3:09 PM: In Q&A, Reykdal says yes, the vaccine requirement will apply to substitutes as well. And he reiterates that what’s making this necessary is the rapid spread of the Delta variant (now responsible for 98 percent of WA cases): “We’ve got to up our game … and we can’t have 30 percent of our team unvaccinated.”
3:12 PM: Here are full details of what the governor has just announced. He also warns, “This may not be the end of our efforts if this pandemic continues.” But: “We are hopeful that these measures will restrain the pandemic.”
3:17 PM: Secretary Shah adds that while there’s no outdoor-masking order, it’s “strongly recommended” to wear one if you are in a CROWDED outdoor setting.