State superintendent: COVID in schools ‘only going to get worse’ without vaccines, masks

Aug 13, 2021, 5:41 PM | Updated: Aug 16, 2021, 10:50 am
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(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

On Friday, Chris Reykdal, Washington state’s superintendent of public instruction, announced that he’s asking Gov. Inslee to require all educators to be vaccinated this fall. He joined one of his biggest critics, KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson, to explain.

Dori asked why Reykdal gets to decide where the threshold is: “Why can’t parents decide if their kids will be masked or not? Why can’t teachers decide for themselves if they’re going to be vaccinated or not?”

Want schools to stay open? WA Superintendent says ‘get vaccinated’

“Generally, that is exactly how it should work but we all have this level where we give up this liberty for the greater good,” Reykdal said. “You and I don’t agree on where that line is in this case. But we all agree that that line does get drawn at times.”

The superintendent said that in this case, public health is on his side, especially regarding face coverings, which were mandated for all students and staff on July 28.

“There’s no question it reduces the spread of droplets and keeps us safer,” Reykdal said. “And a vaccine requirement that gives you an option out of it is the right public policy push to try to get this under control and save lives — we’ve proven that in the state.”

Reykdal touted the measures that Washington state, under Gov. Inslee’s leadership, has taken to help keep people from falling ill to COVID-19. That said, he understands it did come with consequences such as taking away liberties, closing businesses, and impacting students and schools.

“We can open schools and keep them open with vaccines and masking requirements so we don’t have to shut them down, and we don’t have to quarantine so many students for 14 days at a time like we did last year,” Reykdal said.

Washington to follow CDC guidance, now recommends all people wear masks indoors

Dori argued that, according to his data, children made up 15% of cases across the country last week and hospitalizations and deaths are near 0-1%. Additionally, he worries that kids are having to deal with an immense amount of stress over COVID precautions.

Reykdal pushed back and said nine people in Washington state up to 19 years old have died after complications from COVID-19.

“And it’s going to get worse if we don’t take measure because delta is just so much more impactful,” he said.

As for the mental strain on children, Reykdal agreed with Dori that inundating students with this information takes a toll and it’s a true concern.

“There is a threshold that this is so real we have to ask ourselves to collectively take these measures even though it does impact individual liberty and does create some anxiety and worry,” he said. “I’m really sensitive to that.”

As of Aug. 10, nearly 71% of all eligible people in Washington state have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Over four million people in the state are fully vaccinated, according to the state Department of Health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that children mask up in schools. 

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dori Monson on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dori monsonTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 12 noon for The Dori Monson Show.

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State superintendent: COVID in schools ‘only going to get worse’ without vaccines, masks