IMPORTANT VACCINE MANDATE UPDATE FROM STATE BOARD OF HEALTH
Subject: COVID-19 Vaccine NOT Required for Students Next Fall
As you may know, the State Board of Health (SBOH), who determines immunization requirements for students in all of Washington’s K–12 schools, has been considering whether or not to require the COVID-19 vaccine for students.
Today, SBOH voted to not require Washington’s students be vaccinated against COVID-19 for school attendance. This means this fall, immunization requirements for our students will remain unchanged. SBOH still overwhelmingly supports the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine and notes that vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and those around you, especially against severe illness.
Before making this decision, the State Board of Health organized a technical advisory group (TAG) made up of doctors, public health officials, school partners, and other community members. Over a series of meetings, the TAG met to understand the benefits and challenges of requiring a COVID-19 vaccination for students. In late February, the TAG concluded their work and recommended to the State Board of Health that the vaccine not be required. In today’s SBOH meeting, they reviewed the TAG’s recommendation before making this decision.
We are anticipating the current health and safety guidance from the state Department of Health will remain in place next fall. This includes regular cleaning and disinfecting, encouraging masks, sharing reminders of proper hand hygiene, and physical distancing to the extent possible while ensuring a full-time in-person opportunity for all students. As a reminder, as we have learned throughout the pandemic, the situation with the virus can evolve and sometimes the guidance changes for us to continue providing the safest learning environment possible for our school community.
For your awareness, at this time, there have not been changes to Governor Inslee’s proclamation requiring school employees be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Thank you for your continued flexibility and understanding as we continue to navigate and implement changes to state guidance.