The governor also stated that K-12 students and teachers will be required to wear masks in school buildings this fall, regardless of vaccination status
Gov. Jay Inslee is once again asking Washington residents to wear a mask indoors in counties with high transmission rates, although he stopped short Wednesday of announcing a mandate. Inslee also stated that K-12 students and teachers will be required to wear masks in school buildings this fall, regardless of vaccination status.
Inslee, speaking at a news conference Wednesday morning, cited the recent developments of the delta variant and rising COVID-19 cases in the state as his reasoning. The governor’s recommendation comes a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidelines, urging even people who have been vaccinated to wear masks indoors when in public.
Inslee said Wednesday he didn’t issue a mandate because he wanted to continue to encourage residents of the state to be vaccinated. Although, following the CDC’s updated guidelines doesn’t appear to offer any incentive.
According to a Tuesday statement from Clark County Public Health, Clark County is currently categorized as having substantial virus activity.
“Given the current virus activity in Clark County, Public Health is recommending face coverings for everyone in indoor settings, in alignment with CDC guidance,’’ the statement read.
According to a Wednesday statement from Clark County Public Health, Inslee’s mask requirement for students and staff is a legal requirement from the state that schools must follow. Clark County Public Health and local school districts do not have the ability to implement less restrictive requirements.
“Children and adolescents benefit from in-person learning, and safely having students in the classroom is a priority,’’ read the statement from Clark County Public Health. “But schools include a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Children younger than 12 are not yet eligible to get vaccinated and remain at risk of illness from COVID-19.’’
Clark County Public Health stated that these requirements are consistent with recommendations from the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The state will revisit these requirements if circumstances change.
The Department of Health will release complete guidance for K-12 schools later Wednesday.