All Washington K-12 school employees were required by state mandate to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or obtain a medical or religious exemption by Oct. 18. Following the effective date, OSPI collected compliance data from school districts across the state.
OLYMPIA—October 28, 2021—In a media briefing this afternoon at the Old Capitol Building in Olympia, State Superintendent Chris Reykdal announced that nearly 90% of Washington’s public K–12 school employees are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Our K–12 workforce really stepped up in a way that further protects themselves, their students,
colleagues, families, and their communities at large,” Reykdal said.
“With our adherence to safety protocols and nearly 90% our staff
vaccinated, our schools remain one of the safest environments for our children.”
Data show that Washington’s staff who work in classrooms with the closest proximity to students have the highest full vaccination rate at 90.4%. Staff serving in school buildings who are not assigned to classrooms are vaccinated at 87.6%. Finally, staff serving in central facilities such as district offices, bus barns, and other maintenance facilities are vaccinated at 86.9%.
“Our school employees are fully vaccinated at rates of 14–18 percentage points higher than the statewide average of vaccinated adults in Washington,” Reykdal said. “This means our students are more likely to come into contact with an unvaccinated adult at the grocery store, a restaurant, or another community area than at their school.”
In addition to those who are fully vaccinated, the data show that 0.5% of school employees have initiated vaccination but are not yet fully vaccinated, another 0.7% obtained a medical exemption, and another 9.6% obtained a religious exemption.
For staff with an approved exemption, school districts are taking additional steps to protect the health and safety of students and staff. These accommodations are made on a case-by-case basis. Accommodations could look like enhanced personal protective equipment, regular testing for COVID-19, additional physical distancing, and/or changing job duties, among others.
The data also show that 0.3% of school employees did not obtain a vaccination or a medical or religious exemption. This may include employees who resigned, retired, or were separated from service, with some separations and dismissals unrelated to the vaccination requirement.
“I’m very proud of our school employees!” Reykdal said. “As a parent and as an educator, it feels good to know that educators are always leading in their communities to support our children’s health, safety, and learning.”