Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We hope you are staying healthy and doing as well as possible during these challenging times. We have arrived at the beginning of the school year for many families in our district. The return to full-time, in-person learning brings an abundance of emotions for both parents and children alike, from excitement and relief to anxiety and uncertainty.
We are writing to address the two topics that we’ve heard from many of you about the past few months: mask and vaccination mandates and the Long Term Care Trust Act.
Vaccine Mandates and Mask Mandates in Schools
We would like to acknowledge the contention around mask mandates for school districts and the vaccination mandates for state employees.
We have heard from parents who feel strongly that their children should not have to wear masks at school, and we have also heard from parents who feel just as strongly that their children are vulnerable to COVID-19 and who absolutely want children to wear masks at school and teachers and school staff to be masked and vaccinated.
Regardless of where you stand on this issue, we want you to know that we hear you and we care about your family’s freedom to make medical decisions about your children’s health and wellbeing, in consultation with your pediatrician or primary care physician. Sometimes personal freedoms must be limited to accomplish a greater social good and to save the lives of our neighbors and reduce hospitalizations. While there has been disagreement about whether to require masks and/or vaccination for schools, ultimately, we believe that parents on both sides of this issue simply want what they believe is best for their children. Public health and safety are primary functions of government, and so is listening to constituents. As your elected representatives, we promise to listen. We will carry your voices, and the advice of public health experts, into the conversations we have in the legislature about the impacts of these policies.
In the meantime, we encourage you to contact Governor Inslee or your local school board, to express your concerns.
Long Term Care Trust Act
We have heard from many of you about your concerns with the Long Term Care Act. We also have concerns with this program and are working with our colleagues to make some changes.
The idea is a noble one in that many of us are not prepared financially for the long-term care we may need later in life. This may harm us as well as burden our families and friends. Prior to WA Cares, older adults are required to spend down their savings to be “poor enough” to receive Medicaid. It is important for Washington state to have a long-term care insurance program that will help protect taxpayers from the financial impacts related to caregiving costs and provide families peace of mind. The idea of a dedicated fund to provide a benefit to cover the cost of long-term care makes sense in that coverage for care will ultimately be borne by the community in general and creates demand for funding from other taxes.
There were issues with the rollout of this program, some of which had to do with the pandemic and uncertainty in our economy and we need to address those issues. We don’t want to undermine the goals of the program but we believe that we should address concerns we have heard from you, such as exempting those that are nearing retirement age who will never vest in the program, exempting military families who move from state to state and the many people who work in our district on limited visas, who will ultimately return to their home country. Lastly, the short timeline for the rollout and the one chance to opt out is also an issue many constituents have raised as a serious concern and we agree that this should be changed. However, it is important to remember that there are many programs we pay into that we may never ultimately use but are for the greater good of our society. Please know that we hear and understand these concerns and we are doing our best to share these concerns with leadership and make changes.
COVID-19: Current Status
For the most updated information on the status of the coronavirus in the state and our area, please click here or on the image below to go to the Department of Health COVID-19 Dashboard.
You can get detailed information for the entire state or broken down by county on each of the available tabs.
The state’s COVID-19 Response Site has a wealth of information, including vaccine locator and vaccine facts; information on how to access resources for your family, such as food assistance; guidelines for businesses and employers; information about unemployment and workers’ rights; and resources for health care providers.
You are also encouraged to call the 800-525-0127 hotline, which is open daily.
Please look for emails from each of us in the coming weeks highlighting the work we have done this interim.
Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter. As always, please let us know if you have any questions or if there are concerns you’d like to share with us.