Dear friends and neighbors:
If you’re a parent, there’s a strong chance you share my interest in getting our kids back in school. I say this not just because I’ve heard from scores of concerned parents but because I’m a father with six kids and the husband of a schoolteacher. Whatever we do legislatively, I’m going to have to live with personally.
The thing is, we need to act now if we have any hope of getting schools reopened in time to salvage a meaningful portion of the school year. That’s important, because if there’s anything kids, parents and educators can agree on, it’s that remote schooling is nowhere near as effective as in-person classes.
That’s why this has been my biggest priority since before the legislative session even began. I’m working to provide schools the funds they need to provide safe classrooms and get students and teachers vaccinated, because I know that education is the best and most lasting investment we can make. But that investment can’t pay off if we don’t ensure a safe environment. And I am confident we can do exactly that.
There’s a lot to do, but I think we can walk and chew gum at the same time. What’s more, we can’t afford not to. Getting kids back in school will allow many parents who are staying home to return to their jobs and help restart our economy. It makes sense for our kids, for our households, and for our communities.
I commend the governor’s accelerated timetable for getting teachers vaccinated, but I think his metrics for reopening schools leave room for improvement. Since there’s no correlation between areas with high rates of infection and kids attending schools, there’s no good reason to keep kids home. Many other states where kids are already attending school nevertheless have lower infection rates than Washington.
That’s why I’m the lead cosponsor of Senate Bill 5037 and am pushing for its swift passage. I thought it had a good hearing Monday and am optimistic it will be passed out of committee.