Seattle School Board calls on state to implement COVID vaccine mandate for students

Nov 18, 2021, 12:26 PM | Updated: 12:36 pm
Seattle school vaccine mandate...
(Seattle Public Schools, Facebook)
(Seattle Public Schools, Facebook)

After weeks of delays, the Seattle School Board approved a resolution this week, calling on the state Department of Health to implement a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students.

Seattle schools scale back plan to offer full-time virtual learning option

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention granted emergency authorization for use of the Pfizer vaccine in children ages 5-11 in early November. Shortly after that approval was given, the Seattle School Board drafted a resolution asking the state to add the COVID vaccine to the existing list of immunizations students are required to receive in order to attend public school.

That list already includes vaccinations against Hepatitis-B, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox, with exceptions carved out for those who have approved religious or health reasons. In 2019, the state Legislature passed a bill removing the exemption for personal and philosophical reasons for the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine.

The school board subsequently put off voting on the resolution on two separate occasions, in hopes of engaging more with families, communities of color, and other stakeholders.

In its resolution, the Seattle School Board labeled the risks associated with COVID-19 transmission, illness, and death as “unacceptably high,” particularly among lower income and BIPOC students.

“Approved COVID-19 vaccines have proved to be safe and effective in sharply reducing the rates of transmission, illness and death,” the resolution reads. “However, students and families furthest from educational justice remain disproportionately impacted.”

Seattle school district reports 99% COVID vaccine compliance among staff

“Within Seattle Public Schools, we have seen a higher number of classrooms closed in Title I schools, and higher COVID-19 positivity rates in school communities with the highest numbers of students furthest from educational justice – in particular, those communities with the highest number of Black male students,” it continues.

Short of mandating the COVID vaccine for all students, the board believes that this trend will continue if it remains unaddressed at the state level.

“The alternative to actively urging the State to require eligible students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine is to passively wait and hope for state action,” it said. “This is not recommended. It is essential that the School Board advocate for the health and safety of our families, and for state action that will mitigate inequitable disparities in access to in-person education.”

Despite the board’s resolution, it may be awhile before the state considers a student vaccine mandate. According to state Superintendent Chris Reykdal, it likely won’t happen until there is full federal approval for the COVID vaccine in kids, rather than emergency authorization.

“I think it’s going to take quite a bit of time — I still do not anticipate a student vaccine requirement this year,” he told KIRO Radio’s Gee & Ursula Show in October. “I do think people should be prepared for that next year, that it would go on the list with the other vaccine requirements that our students comply with.”

Additionally, Reykdal has made it clear that a COVID vaccine mandate for children will not be a district decision.

“We’re going to take a statewide approach on this,” Reykdal said. “It isn’t going to be a district by district decision. What I have continued to tell the governor and public health officials — and I’ve been very public about — is this needs to go through the process that it would go through for any kid vaccine requirement.”

In mid-October, Seattle Public Schools reported that 99% of its nearly 7,300 full-time employees were in compliance with a recently-implemented vaccine mandate for city and state workers.

Local News

Omicron variant...
Nick Bowman

UW Virology: ‘A matter of time’ before omicron variant surfaces in Washington

In Washington, local health leaders believe that the omicron variant is likely to surface in the state sometime in the coming weeks.
13 hours ago
KIRO Radio Newsdesk

South Puget Sound Community College offers first-of-its-kind craft brewing degree

The city of Tumwater, which is working to become a center for craft brewing and distilling, was visited by the governor this week.
13 hours ago
Seattle police protest...
Hanna Scott

Audit from police watchdog warns of ‘gaps in the discipline system’ for Seattle officers

An audit of the Seattle Police Department’s disciplinary system lead to nearly a dozen recommendations by the city’s Office of Inspector General.
13 hours ago
Election fraud...
Nick Bowman

Claims of election fraud from Washington Republicans persist amid flood of emails to AG’s office

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson was flooded with emails last weekend, pushing for him to support the latest claims of election fraud.
13 hours ago
Green Lake...
MyNorthwest Staff

Should Seattle take a traffic lane for an outer loop at Green Lake?

Green Lake in Seattle could have an outer loop in the near future with even more space for people to walk, run, and bike around the lake. 
13 hours ago
Washington state forest...
Dalton Day

Washington state to preserve, reseed two million acres of forest by 2040

The state Department of Natural Resources makes a substantial investment in its forests, pledging to preserve or restore 2 million acres of trees by 2040.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Seattle School Board calls on state to implement COVID vaccine mandate for students