OC, SKSD announce end to COVID vaccine mandates

Vaccines are no longer the passport to in-person education for staff of the South Kitsap School District and both students and faculty at Olympic College.

Oct. 31 marked the final day of several emergency proclamations signed by Gov. Jay Inslee in July 2021 concerning COVID-19. One proclamation ordered schools to require the full vaccination of all higher education, K-12 and childcare employees. Workers could file for an exemption for medical or religious reasons, among others.

The SKSD saw the proclamation affect staffing levels but also presented a problem when recruiting volunteers for district events. Volunteers were held under the same criteria.

Superintendent Tim Winter did not respond to a request for comment, but previously said in board meetings how nice it is to be closer to “pre-pandemic levels” of staffing and attendance.

At the higher education level, Nov. 1 marked the end of that proclamation, which required Olympic College to declare itself either fully vaccinated or not. The college announced in August 2021 that it would declare a fully-vaccinated status, meaning only approved students and employees could enter campus grounds, by getting the vaccine or having an approved exemption. Students were still allowed to attend classes online, but could not access on-campus services.

College president Marty Cavalluzzi said in a Nov. 7 news release that the campus is once again open to all. “We are proud of the work we did to keep our campuses safe during the pandemic,” he said, “but it is time to welcome everyone back.”

The timing works well for the college as it’s the start of winter enrollment. Hundreds of in-person classes will be offered to the first wave of post-pandemic students, along with on-campus services such as tutoring, athletics, computer labs and more. The campus also announced the reopening of its Olympic Cafe and Espresso Bar.

Cavalluzzi said it’s a good time to enroll at the college because it can help students reach their goals either online or in-person.

The college says it will continue to monitor the level of positive COVID cases among the students and faculty to ensure the health and safety of the campuses.