Equitably and safely vaccinating Washington educators and school staff is the goal of the new “Get Ready” plan announced Friday by state schools Superintendent Chris Reykdal.
The plan is designed to be launch-ready when personnel become eligible under the state’s vaccination protocols and will focus on supporting a safe return to school and ensures a commitment to fairness, equity and consistency in the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Keeping our educators and school staff safe is very important to me,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “This announcement does not allow educators to move ahead in the current prioritization; it means when it is their turn, we are ready to move ahead.”
The plan will include up to 20 vaccination locations along the I-5 corridor and in Spokane that will be capable of offering vaccinations to up to 80% of school employees. The state schools office and Department of Health are planning further efforts to define potential sites for Central Washington school employees.
“Although our schools are already reopening safely without widespread vaccinations, we know this will expedite that process and ultimately benefit our students, their families, our educators and staff, and our communities as a whole,” Rekdahl said, adding 143,000 school employees need vaccinations.
School districts are encouraged to maintain existing vaccination plans, however this integrated approach will offer an equitable approach. All vaccination efforts will be in coordination with the newly formed state Vaccine Command and Coordination Center. Availability will continue to be dependent upon the number of vaccines the state receives.
“The health and safety of our students, staff, and families is a top priority for our state, and we’re proud to support school employees and lead on equitable vaccine distribution,” said Susan Mullaney, president of Kaiser Permanente Washington.
The plan will include vaccine resources and space provided by Kaiser Permanente at its clinics as well as K-12 school locations. A website and updated information on this integrated approach will offer information about timing, scheduling and links to resources such as PhaseFinder and more.
”Educational Service Districts are ready to provide strong, coordinated support on this massive effort, which has the potential to vaccinate 50,000 employees in the Puget Sound region alone,” said John Welch, superintendent of the Puget Sound Educational Service District.
Those eligible to receive the COVID vaccine currently include groups in Phase 1 Tier 1A, 2A and 1B. Educators and staff in K-12 facilities are expected to be eligible to receive the vaccine after 50 percent of the currently eligible population are vaccinated, in accordance with DOH plans. Future phases of the vaccination process are not yet established.