TACOMA, Wash. - State health officials are requiring masks at K-12 schools this fall.
Amber Kropelnicki’s daughter is entering the first grade in the Tacoma School District this upcoming school year.
"For her sake, I’m kind of bummed that they’re continuing that this year," said Kropelnicki about the mask mandate. "I understand the safety measures behind it and I don’t want any of the kids getting COVID. I don’t want any of the teachers getting COVID, but I wish it would all come to an end."
The president of the Tacoma Education Association (TEA) said the mask mandate was in the preliminary guidance and expected to be in place for the fall.
"We're hoping for more clarity regarding distancing and time when students must be unmasked, like breakfast and lunchtime. Additionally, we are keeping an eye on the Delta variant and its impact on different age groups. We are still hopeful for a vaccine being approved for children under 12 which will increase educators' comfort with continuing in-person instruction," said Shannon Ergun, President of TEA.
Brooke Brown is Washington State Teacher of the Year and said masking is just one part of the safe return to school, and that we need to look at this fall from a lens of community care.
"I just think that returning to buildings this fall is something that we have to be very intentional about," said Brown, who works at the Franklin Pierce School District. "Thinking about what’s best for every single young person and adult. Every single person that is a part of schooling."
Brown has two children at home who are too young to be vaccinated. She said she’s still unsure what this fall will look like for her family.
"I have to think about my one-year-old who has down syndrome and can’t get vaccinated and my nine-year-old who also can’t get vaccinated," said Brown.
As for Kropelnicki, she won’t hide her disappointment about the mask requirement but said the family will follow all the rules in place this fall.
"I feel like the school has taken drastic measures to keep it clean and safe. Last year any kid that had even the slightest sniffle or cough was sent home," said Kropelnicki. "[Fiona] is a good sport about it so I have to give her credit for that."
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