The WA State Department of Health’s NEW Requirements and Guidance to Mitigate COVID-19 Transmission in K-12 Schools, Child Care, Early Learning, Youth Development, and Day Camp Programs take effect March 12 to coincide with the lifting of general indoor masking requirements. DOH walked through the guidance with school and childcare stakeholders on recorded webinars.
Requirements, as outlined in section 1 of the document
- Employees must be vaccinated or have a medical or religious exemption, per Governor
- Anyone with symptoms stays home
- Masks in the nurse/health/school isolation room
- Isolation of people with COVID (see below)
- Staff must be notified of exposure – see L&I document
- Priority of direct notification for immune-compromised students
- Communication process for notifying families of cases or outbreaks
- Access to diagnostic testing (see below)
- Report positive cases/outbreaks to Local Health Jurisdiction (see below)
At-Home Isolation Protocol and Returning to School or Care Program
Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 is required to isolate, regardless of vaccination status.
The individual may return to school/care after 5 full days of isolation if:
- Their symptoms have improved or they are asymptomatic, AND
- They have been without a fever for the past 24 hours without use of fever-reducing medications.
If returning to school/care after day 5, the individual is required* to:
- Wear a well-fitted mask or face shield with full drape during days 6-10 OR
- Test negative with an antigen or at-home test any day after day 5.
- If the staff or student can’t wear a well-fitted mask and don’t test negative, they must complete a 10-day isolation.
*This technical update was released by DOH on Thursday March 10.
K12 Schools are required to ensure access to timely diagnostic testing
for students and staff with symptoms or those potentially exposed who want to test. This can be done at the school or in partnership with a trusted and accessible community-based testing provider. Learn to Return continues to be funded for all schools to provide FREE testing.
Reporting of Cases & Outbreaks
All cases & outbreaks of COVID-19 in schools and childcare programs are required to be reported to LHJs/DOH. COVID-19 test results should be reported in accordance with guidance available at the Reporting COVID-19 Test Results webpage. Schools, providers, and families are required to cooperate with public health investigations. Employers are required to notify L&I about outbreaks of 10 or more staff members.
Schools should be prepared (and should prepare their parents and students) for potential surges or outbreaks
- A quick pivot to heavier mitigation strategies (masking, testing, distancing, etc.) when necessary will require community preparation.
- Schools and local health departments must continue to partner and communicate regularly.
Exposed individuals protocol
Students and staff may continue to take part in all in-person instruction and care, including sports, performing arts, and other extracurricular activities, as long as they are not symptomatic. Anyone who develops symptoms is required to immediately isolate and follow At-Home Isolation Protocol.
DOH updates are now reflected in this COVID-19 Symptom & Exposure Flowchart for Schools_Child Care.
Your Local Health Jurisdiction will provide guidance communication as soon as available.