State superintendent of public instruction urges governor to remove the state mask mandate for students

Chris Reykdal: ‘From Pandemic to Endemic – It’s time to remove the state mask mandate for students’

Below is a statement by State Superintendent Chris Reykdal on his recommendation to the Department of Health and Gov. Jay Inslee to make masks a local health department decision for students in K–12 schools.

Students at Amboy Middle School in North Clark County are shown here earlier this week protesting the state’s mask mandate for students. Similar protests have taken place recently in the Ridgefield, Washougal and Woodland school districts. Photo courtesy Buddy Woodberry
Students at Amboy Middle School in North Clark County are shown here earlier this week protesting the state’s mask mandate for students. Similar protests have taken place recently in the Ridgefield, Washougal and Woodland school districts. Photo courtesy Buddy Woodberry

“Throughout the pandemic, the Department of Health and Governor Inslee have set essential health and safety requirements for our schools using current data and research. Their leadership has helped Washington state to have some of the lowest rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations and mortalities in the nation. 

“The combination of widespread vaccinations and much higher infection acquired immunity due to the pervasive Omicron variant has changed the landscape of the pandemic once again. I believe it is time to carefully plan our move from a pandemic response to an endemic system of readiness.

State Superintendent Chris Reykdahl
State Superintendent Chris Reykdahl

“With high immunity rates and our ability to carry out rapid antigen tests with nearly every school district participating in our state’s COVID-19 testing program, the time is now to rebalance the health and educational benefits of masking in our schools. 

“As part of the transition from pandemic to endemic, I believe it is safe and timely to eliminate the statewide masking requirement for students and allow for a decision by local health officials. I recommend the Governor and Department of Health change the guidance to reflect this in the coming weeks.

“Cases and hospitalizations are expected to fall substantially in the coming weeks, and this gives us an opportunity to revisit the benefits and downsides to our current mitigation strategies, including universal masking in schools.

“When there was limited or no access to vaccines or rapid tests and rates of hospitalizations and mortalities were high, mandatory face coverings were an essential part of the larger community mitigation strategy – masks worked! However, universal masking impacted the learning environment. 

“This is the nature of an ever-changing virus as it moves from highly impactful and unmitigated, to much less impactful and more treatable. This change will empower schools to better focus their valuable time on supporting our students’ learning and well-being recovery and acceleration. 

“As part of my recommendation to the Department of Health and the Governor, I expect schools will continue to have rapid tests on-site to quickly assess symptomatic students, staff, and close contacts. Those who test positive will continue to isolate and quarantine until their symptoms subside.

“Current laws empower local health officials to assess health and safety risks and determine local strategies. Given the varied vaccination rates and adherence to other mitigation strategies across the regions in our state, it is time to return decision-making to local health officials. In some cases, local health officials may require temporary returns to masking or other mitigation strategies if cases spike or if a new variant poses elevated risks.

“The tools to combat this virus today are dramatically better than the tools we had two years ago. I encourage every student and school employee to get their vaccination and booster to lower the risk of the virus. My recommendation today reflects my belief that the benefits of making this change outweigh the ongoing impacts on the learning environment as well as the challenges of maintaining a fixed statewide policy.

“As a reminder, masks are still required in the school environment at this time per Department of Health requirements.

“This is ultimately a decision of the Governor, with professional guidance from officials at the Department of Health, and I will uphold and respect their ultimate decision and guidance for our students and school personnel.”

Information provided by the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.


  1. blank

    Today the Clark County Council, who serve as the Board of Health, held a meeting. The Public Health Director verbally shared a study that supported indoor mask wearing. When asked what country the covid test kids came from, the Public Health Director did not know.

  2. blank

    Kids and parents are done with the BS
    its time to remove the muzzle from people and let them move on with life! If you want to wear it do so! But stop forcing people to do something they don’t want to do ESPECIALLY when cdc is even saying the mask doesn’t work!

  3. blank
    Bo Lee

    It’s my theory that Democrats and public health agencies are creating a generation of Republican voters. These kids are getting first hand experience in government and bureaucratic overreach, and they will remember what was done to them.

  4. blank
    Adam Moore

    “Masks work” what!? We just had 100 times more cases than last year all while masked up. Furthermore we lost 20 people in Clark county last week alone that were “fully vaccinated.” We only lost 100 all last year. I’m all for ending this nonsense but I can not let them say it has anything to do logic or reason. They are flapping in the political winds.

  5. blank

    This statement is a joke. He could care less about the impacts on children. He still won’t admit masks for children was, and still is a bad idea. All he is really saying, is that he is washing his hands of the matter and it is no longer his responsibility. The damage however is already done. Remember this come election season. Vote this bum out.

    1. blank

      What science? The vaccines do not work! You want to force people to take something they do not want? Good grief.. this is sounding vaguely historically familiar. Let us have our freedom you do you. Mask up and poke yourself over and over if you want.. that is the joy that is American.. land of the FREE.

  6. blank

    Reykdal is not doing this in the best interest of students. He is doing this to help usher in mandatory vaccination for students. He has an agenda just like when he asked the governor to add teachera to the vaccine mandate. He is not a good man!

  7. blank
    Dennis Anderson

    Reykdakl is not to be trusted. His newly found stance is based 100% on this month’s legal action served on most state’s local school boards. This is one evil man.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *