VANCOUVER, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee toured Clark County Friday to see hybrid learning and COVID-19 vaccination efforts firsthand.
He visited Eleanor Roosevelt Elementary in Vancouver, where some students are in the classroom and some are on Zoom.
He ordered all Washington schools to allow students back in class at least two days a week, starting April 19.
Many younger students started early.
"The best thing is seeing their faces every day," a teacher told Inslee.
Inslee met with staff to hear about what's working and what could be made easier.
"I appreciate the innovation and spirit," Inslee said. "Doing this remotely ... is just remarkable."
Teachers and administrators described ongoing challenges for some students to connect remotely. Others have had trouble with attendance.
"We really have to have purpose and understanding in what we do," one educator described. "I've really had to refine my practice."
Gov. Inslee has requested federal money from the American Rescue Plan be used for mental health services and student supports.
As part of his Clark County tour, Inslee visited the Boys & Girls Club and a Free Clinic vaccination site.
He met with doctors and representatives from various medical groups to discuss how they could better work together in vaccine rollout.
"I have plenty of people to do vaccinations, but not enough to do the paperwork," one said.
Ultimately, the group praised the vaccine's effectiveness and emphasized ongoing public outreach to dispel misinformation.
"[The vaccines] are incredibly effective, and they're incredibly safe," Inslee said. "They're one of the greatest scientific miracles of the last four centuries."
Finally, Inslee met with community and government leaders in Vancouver to discuss vaccine distribution.
"We know there's more work to do toward equity with this vaccine," he said.
Community groups shared challenges to reach BIPOC communities, non-English-speaking people and others who are vaccine-hesitant.
Members of the Pacific Islander community expressed frustration at vaccine access for people with language barriers, busy low-paying jobs and lack of transportation.
Other leaders described distrust from some in the Latinx community when asked for ID and insurance information to get the COVID shot.
Some others who are hesitant to get the vaccine have reported to community groups they are concerned they'll get sick with COVID from the shot.
Inslee acknowledged the challenges and thanked leaders for sharing the information, vowing to double down on factual vaccine outreach.
"You do not get sick from the vaccine, period! That's really important messaging," he said.