Spokane Education Association against vaccine mandate, supports recommendation

SPOKANE, Wash.– The Spokane Education Association’s president spoke out Friday about what a vaccine mandate for K-12 workers could mean for the district.

President Jeremy Shay said he understands why state leaders would want to put a vaccine requirement in place but doesn’t agree with it.

“There are other alternatives besides just mandating vaccines or you can’t work,” Shay said.

Those other options include weekly tests for those who opt out of getting the shot.

He said he gets that state leaders want to keep schools as safe as possible, but that can be done without requiring a vaccine.

“We’ve shown that you don’t need to be vaccinated to run schools safely. We did it last year,” he said.

Shay added he thinks schools can operate safely if they continue with masking strategies.

This comes as State Superintendent Chris Reykdal pushes for Gov. Jay Inslee to require all K-12 school employees to get vaccinated. The governor’s current state mandate does not include them.

The governor’s office sent a statement on Friday saying Inslee did not initially include K-12 in the vaccine mandate because he was focused on cabinet-level state employees and those who work in private and long-term healthcare.

Shay said he hoped the governor takes a more measured approach instead of a mandate.

READ MORE: Gov. Inslee responds to state superintendent’s call for teacher vaccine mandate

Shay said another problem he might have would be filling open positions and how requiring a vaccine would impact that.

“Our district has several open positions and my concern would be what protocols we would go through with filling unfilled positions should a mandate go through like this,” Shay said.

Shay said another one of his concerns is not knowing what the impact would actually be since he doesn’t know how many members are vaccinated.

The Spokane Education Association represents 3,100 members who are all educators. It represents a bulk of Spokane Public School employees.

RELATED: Washington Superintendent: Teacher vaccine mandate ‘will undoubtedly save lives’