Southwest Washington’s two largest school districts, Evergreen and Vancouver public schools, are urging health officials and Gov. Jay Inslee to re-prioritize vaccinations for educators. Both districts plan to begin returning more students to classrooms for in-person learning beginning Jan. 19 in accordance with the governor and Washington state Department of Health’s latest guidelines.
The current vaccination schedule gives school district employees the opportunity for vaccination in February or April 2021 depending on age. Superintendents Mike Merlino, Evergreen, and Steve Webb, Vancouver, are advocating for consolidation of the vaccination windows. In the following letter to Gov. Inslee and health officials, the superintendents asked that all school district employees, regardless of age, be placed in Phase 1, B2, of the state’s vaccination schedule, allowing this group to be vaccinated in February.
“In addition to the Center for Disease Control COVID mitigation strategies, vaccinating all preK–12 employees at the same time will add another layer of protection for our staff, students and families,” said Superintendent Steve Webb.
To assist this effort, the districts have offered the help of trained staff and the use of their facilities as vaccination sites.
Evergreen and Vancouver are among the state of Washington’s 10 largest school districts. Combined the districts employ about 6,600 staff members and serve approximately 50,000 students.
Information about the district’s plans for hybrid learning is available on Vancouver and Evergreen’s websites.
January 11, 2021
The Honorable Jay Inslee
Governor, State of Washington
Dr. Umair Shah
Secretary of Health, State of Washington
Dear Governor Inslee and Secretary Shah:
Evergreen Public Schools, Vancouver Public Schools and other Clark County school districts have announced plans to expand in-person learning for K-5 students consistent with the Washington Dept. of Health guidance for schools updated Dec. 16, 2020, and contingent on COVID-19 activity in our county.
Staff are preparing our schools, providing the required PPE training and engaging in collaborative discussions with our employee associations. Evergreen and Vancouver plan to begin the expansion of in-person learning on January 19 and add other grade levels on January 25 and February 1.
To safeguard our employees as we expand in-person learning to middle and high school students, it is necessary to vaccinate educators, school leaders and support staff. Approximately half of our workforce is age 50 and older. We therefore are requesting that ALL pre-K through 12th grade school district employees be moved to Phase 1, B2, in the state’s vaccination schedule, allowing this group to be vaccinated in February.
As stated since the start of the emergency proclamations, school district employees are essential workers. They continue to work tirelessly to serve students during this extraordinarily difficult time. To reopen the economy and address pre-K through 12th grade learning loss, the State of Washington must reopen its public schools. In doing so, the state’s top priority must be keeping our staff, students, families and communities safe and healthy.
Clark County superintendents are working together with Clark County Public Health to identify ways that school districts can help expedite the vaccination process. We are offering, for example, the use of our facilities and grounds and the assistance of our personnel to help health care providers administer the vaccines.
Thank you for your consideration of our request as an opportunity to demonstrate the State of Washington’s strong commitment to public education. We appreciate your support of our schools and the approximately 50,000 students we serve in the Evergreen and Vancouver districts.
Mike Merlino, Superintendent
Evergreen Public Schools
Steve Webb, Superintendent
Vancouver Public Schools