School mask debate not over despite Gov. Inslee's announcement to lift mask mandate

Even with Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement that the indoor mask mandate will be lifted at schools come March 12, the debate over masks is not over.

Seattle Public Schools saying the mask mandate will continue until further notice.

Some parents agree with SPS, while others say the decision makes no sense to them.

"It’s time to let our kids smile again," Dave Smith said.

Smith says he is not an anti-masker.

"We believe in science, we are vaccinated, we have four kids that have been in Seattle Public Schools.

Smith says if SPS continues to mandate masking beyond what state health leaders are requiring, then he believes it’s unreasonable. 

"We have to live with COVID, it’s not going to be eradicated," Smith said.

With Inslee’s announcement that indoor masks can come off at most places including schools, some districts were quick to react.

Districts like Lake Washington, Everett, Bethel so far saying masks will become optional and no longer mandatory in line with Inslee’s announcement.

Meanwhile, districts like Tacoma Public Schools, Shoreline, and Franklin Pierce have yet to make an announcement on an exact decision one way or another.

Seattle Public Schools to continue with current mask requirements 'until further notice'

Masks will continue to be required until further notice in Seattle Public Schools, the district said Monday after Gov. Jay Inslee announced the statewide masking requirement for schools would be lifted on March 12.

But when it comes to Seattle, the teacher’s union releasing this statement:

"In our experience, universal required masking has been our most important in-classroom and in-building mitigation measure during this pandemic.  Our students and educators have been wearing masks in schools for over a year now, and it has become routine and accepted.  In fact, masks contribute to feelings of safety and normalcy that schools provide our students. Further, removing the mask mandate now fails the many students and educators who are immuno-compromised or pregnant, who live with someone who is, or who live with children under age 5 who cannot yet receive a vaccine.  A large number of children under 12 remain unvaccinated with disproportionately higher numbers of those living in our more socially and economically diverse communities. It is important that with masking changes the voices of those most vulnerable to COVID be heard, Educators and Students alike. Their needs are historically dismissed in hasty moves to normalcy. The severity of their risk should never be lost in our transitions and SEA will ensure their concerns are seen for discussion through our labor negotiations."

When you look at social media, ssome parents agree with keeping masks going, but Smith says he believes the majority feel differently. 

"A lot of parents are disappointed," Smith said.

Smith also has an issue with McClure Middle School in Queen Anne where he says masks are taken to extremes during lunch.

"The really alarming thing is they are still putting the mask on and off in between bites and they are policed in this behavior," Smith said.

Seattle Public Schools telling FOX 13 there is nothing unique to what McClure Middle school is doing. They say if any family member is concerned about a policy that they should reach out to school leadership.

SPS will have to bargain with the union before they can come to a consensus on how to move forward when it comes to face coverings.

 More school districts will announce their exact plans on masks next week when the Washington Dept. of Health officially updates its guidance. But again, the health department is expected to be in step with Inslee’s deadline of March 12. Public Health - Seattle & King County said they would not be extending a mask order beyond what the state would order.

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