Districts plot return of secondary students as teachers get vaccines
Over the last month, the path towards in-person instruction became clear as both Lake Washington School District (LWSD) and Issaquah School District (ISD) announced hybrid learning plans for middle and high schools.
These moves followed Governor Jay Inslee’s March 12 emergency proclamation that requires all K-12 schools in Washington state to provide in-person hybrid learning. Inslee set a deadline of April 19 for secondary schools to comply.
Both districts that serve Sammamish have aligned their plans with current Washington Department of Health and King County Public Health guidance, and will have students on campus 4 days per week.
ISD will open secondary campuses starting April 15, while LWSD will start on April 19.
Teachers can now get COVID-19 vaccines after Inslee made all K-12 educators eligible for vaccination on March 3.
LWSD grants leave time for staff who wish to get the vaccine, and have supported teachers by providing information on where to get vaccination appointments.
ISD went a step further by getting approval for Issaquah Middle School to be used as a vaccination clinic. Any teacher who wants the vaccine can get it at Issaquah Middle School, with guaranteed scheduling for their second dose.
Lesha Engels, executive director of communications and digital strategy at ISD, said the vaccination clinic is also open for staff from other school districts, as well as private schools, to increase vaccine access and provide more schools the opportunity to open up safely.
ISD teachers are allowed to get their vaccine during the workday, and are given leeway to schedule their classes around vaccine appointments.
Both districts maintain that a majority of teachers and community members look forward to getting back on school campuses and hope the vaccine will make both parties more comfortable.
“I have heard from teachers that they are appreciative of the extra layer [of protection] that the vaccine does bring,” Deborah Burkholder, president of the Issaquah Education Association, said. “I will say that there are still some educators overall, even with the vaccine, that have concern and that’s maybe because of personal circumstances.”
In both districts, teachers who wish to stay remote are given the option to do so. As of March 29, LWSD reported 131 teachers who have requested to teach remotely for the remainder of the school year.