URGENT and Exciting News: Vaccine Appointments Available NOW for Educators, School Staff & Licensed Child Care Professionals
COVID-19 vaccine appointments are available this weekend and next at local Walmart pharmacies for educators, teachers, school staff and licensed child care employees. Anyone who is eligible can call 1-833-886-0023 to schedule an appointment. Appointments are also available to some of their household members.
Hearing House Bills in the Senate
This week, we resumed committee hearings. As Chair of the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee, I had the pleasure of hearing bills that came over from our House counterpart. Below are some I would like to highlight.
House Bill 1139: Lead in School Drinking Water
House Bill 1139 requires the Department of Health and school districts to test lead contamination in school drinking water, adopt mitigation efforts, and develop action plans for when tests reveal elevated lead levels. We heard support from OSPI, health experts, and parents who were all supportive of this bill, which will help to prevent this neurotoxin from reaching our students. There is broad bipartisan support for school drinking water to at least meet the federal standards for bottled water.
House Bill 1273: Menstrual Products in School Bathrooms
House Bill 1273 mandates schools provide menstrual products to their students at no cost. For colleges and schools that serve grades 6-12, these products must be provided in all gender-neutral bathrooms and bathrooms that serve female students. For schools that serve grades 3-5, they must make menstrual products available in a school health room or similar locations. Many students of all ages testified in favor, assuring us this issue of equity would have positive educational impacts.
House Bill 1356: Ban Native American Mascots in Public Schools
House Bill 1356 prohibits the inappropriate use of Native American names, symbols, or images as public-school mascots, logos, or team names. Sponsored by Representative Lekanoff, the only Native American currently serving in the Legislature, this bill aims to prohibit the appropriation of Native American tribal imagery unless the tribe themselves are consulted and approve the use. We heard support from the Nisqually Indian Tribe, the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs, OSPI, the State Board of Education, and more.
House Bill 1295: Providing Public Education to Youth In or Released From Institutional Education Facilities
House Bill 1295 improves public education for youth in or released from institutional education facilities, who currently have graduation rates of below 20%. It is well documented that students in Washington’s secure facilities have been unable to access the education and supports they need to make life-changing academic progress, and this is the first step in changing that dynamic. By promoting an education-first approach to a rehabilitative model of care, this bill intends to establish new and modified requirements for the institutional education system that promote student success.
House Bill 1302: Expanding College in the High School Programs
House Bill 1302 expands access to College in the High School to include 9th graders. It also sets a cap on the cost of those courses at $65. College in the High School programs provide college-level courses and credits at a qualifying student’s high school. This is a significant opportunity for students to have accessible and affordable college access. It is even more essential for rural communities that may not have a nearby institution of higher education for Running Start programs.