Some state lawmakers, school districts push back against mask mandates in classrooms

When Washington students return to the classroom this fall, they will be required to wear a mask under Gov. Jay Inslee's statewide mandate

However, some Republican lawmakers and school districts say the mandate is an overreach.

"I am about safety, but I believe the local school district should be making that decision with the health department and parents," said Joe Schmick, the ranking Republican on the House Health and Wellness Committee  

Schmick wrote a letter to Inslee, saying that the risk COVID presents to children is extremely low and it "interrupts learning, speech and language development."  

The letter was signed by Schmick and 24 other state lawmakers.  

Inslee’s office responded and said, "We have received the letter from legislators and while we appreciate their input, it is unlikely to change the governor’s approach."

RELATED: Could parents sue if a child gets COVID-19 from an unvaccinated teacher? Legal experts weigh in

The Onalaska school board in Lewis County is considering making masks optional for students and school staff.

The Onalaska school board wants to hear from the public before deciding whether or not to make masks optional for students and school staff. They have scheduled a public hearing for Wednesday, Aug. 18 at 6 p.m. at Onalaska Elementary.

Earlier this week, Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal said schools that do not comply with the mask mandate will see federal and state funds withheld.

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