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April 14, 2022 District Update from Superintendent Ben Ferney

State Board of Health Decides COVID-19 Vaccine NOT Required for Student Attendance at School

Dear Valley School District Families and Staff,

As you may know, the State Board of Health (SBOH), who determines immunization requirements for students in all of Washington’s K–12 schools, has been considering whether to require the COVID-19 vaccine for students. 

Yesterday, the SBOH voted to not require Washington’s students be vaccinated against COVID-19 for school attendance. This means in the fall, immunization requirements for our students will remain unchanged.

Before making this decision, the State Board of Health organized a technical advisory group (TAG) made up of doctors, public health officials, school partners, and other community members to study and understand the benefits and challenges of requiring a COVID-19 vaccination for students. The SBOH reviewed the TAG’s report before deciding they agreed with their recommendation to not require student vaccines for school attendance. SBOH overwhelmingly supports the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine and notes that vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and those around you, especially against severe illness.

We are anticipating the current health and safety guidance from the state Department of Health will remain in place next fall. This includes encouraging––but not requiring––masks; and emphasizing regular cleaning and disinfecting, proper hand hygiene, and physical distancing while ensuring a full-time in-person learning opportunity for all students. As we have learned throughout the pandemic, the situation with the virus can evolve and sometimes the guidance changes for us to continue providing the safest learning environment possible for our school community.

We thank you for your continued flexibility and partnership as we navigate and implement changes to state guidance.

Take care,