Republican State Senator Brad Hawkins of East Wenatchee and Republican State Representative Alex Ybarra of Quincy are urging Governor Jay Inslee and the state’s department of Health to revise recent guidance to allow for the vaccinations of all public school employees in February, if they want it. Hawkins serves as a ranking member on the Senate’s Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee.

Hawkins believes it definitely justifies school employees (administrators, teachers, and support staff) gaining access to the vaccines now that front-line healthcare workers, first responders, and assisted living facilities residents have already begun to get immunizations.

“School employees throughout Washington are delivering an essential service to help fulfill our state’s paramount duty,” said Hawkins. “They deserve to be prioritized with older Washingtonians, especially considering that they cannot self-isolate like many in our state. In fact, they will be doing the opposite, working indoors and in close proximity with students and staff. They absolutely should gain access to the vaccine.”

The letter to the governor urging such action was signed by Ybarra and Hawkins and others on the House and Senate education committees. It states: “As members of the Washington State Legislature and supporters of our educational system, we are writing to express our disappointment with the Department of Health’s recent guidance related to Washington’s COVID-19 Vaccine Phases. Based on your graphical representation of the phases and its timeline, it appears that many school district employees will not be eligible to receive their first dose of the COVID vaccine until at least April. If timelines slip and school employees are unable to receive their first dose until later in April, by the time they are fully vaccinated and gain full protection from the virus, school districts across Washington will be nearing the end of the school year. This is unacceptable. 

The letter further states: “As you know, school employees, students and families have made tremendous sacrifices during this pandemic and, like us all, they deeply hope for circumstances to return to normal soon. However, nothing will even resemble normal until our schools are fully functioning, given that they are foundational in so many ways to all Washington communities.”