State schools

State schools chief says it’s time to scrap statewide mask mandate in schools – KIRO 7 News Seattle

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Chris Reykdal, Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction, said it’s time to scrap the statewide mask mandate for students and return the taking of decision to local health officials.

Rekdal said high immunity levels and the ability to perform rapid antigen tests were part of what led to his recommendation.

“As part of the transition from pandemic to endemic, I believe it is safe and timely to eliminate the statewide masking requirement for students and allow officials to decide health premises. I recommend that the governor and the Department of Health change the guidelines to reflect this in the coming weeks,” Reykdal said in a press release Wednesday.

Reykdal said as part of his recommendation, he expects schools to continue to have rapid tests to quickly assess students, staff and close contacts who have symptoms.

“Those who test positive will continue to self-isolate and quarantine until their symptoms resolve,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Washington State Board of Health is deciding whether the COVID-19 vaccine should be added to the list of required shots students must have to attend school.

On Thursday, an advisory group voted unanimously to approve two criteria requiring COVID-19 vaccines for all K-12 students.

“Unvaccinated adolescents are 10 times more likely to be hospitalized than their vaccinated counterparts. The difference increased in adolescents over time,” said infectious disease epidemiologist Dr Eric Lofgren.

Washington is the only western state that has yet to rescind its indoor mask mandate.

Several states, including New York, have also dropped proof of vaccination requirements to enter certain businesses.

Washington has been under the current mask mandate since August.