Washington DOH releases updated guidance for schools before lifting mask rules

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Just days ahead of the state lifting its mask mandates for most indoor settings, the Washington Department of Health (DOH) released new pandemic-era guidance for schools, day camps, daycares, and other youth settings.

A 19-page document was released to the public and issued to all school facilities on March 9, 2022. If you are interested in reading the document in its entirety, click here to open it in a new tab.

However, the largest point to consider is that students and faculty will no longer be required to wear masks while indoors at school facilities starting on March 12.

READ: Washington, Oregon, & California Governors coordinate to lift indoor mask mandates this March

Most of the requirements that remain in place will pertain to COVID-19 symptoms and exposure. For example, students and providers must report COVID-19 cases and people with symptoms of the virus will be asked to isolate until they can confirm they are not infected.

Furthermore, people with COVID-19 must isolate for five days and wear a mask or receive a negative test result between six and 10 days after they are infected. Those who refuse to wear a mask or receive a negative test can return to school after 10 days.

Any student visiting the nurse’s office at their school will be required to wear masks. Many schools will institute an isolation space for those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. In emergency situations without an isolation space, those individuals may be made comfortable in an outdoor setting.

RECENT: Washington mask mandate for most indoor settings ends in March + new guidance for schools

Though many of the COVID-19 guidelines will no longer be required, the Washington DOH still recommends the following means of preventing the transmission of COVID-19 in childcare settings:

  • Staying up to date on vaccinations.
  • Wearing masks for personal protection and source control.
  • Enhancing ventilation to reduce transmission of aerosolized viruses.
  • Remaining at home when ill.
  • Conducting rapid diagnostic testing.
  • Exercising good respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene.
  • Practicing physical distancing to the degree possible and practical.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting as indicated.
  • Maximizing outdoor activities.

Washington state’s Secretary of Health—Umair A. Shah (MD, MPH)—expressed the value of upholding public safety while making steps toward the end of this pandemic.

“In-person education and care are valuable to social and emotional health,” Dr. Shah said. “This new guidance focuses on ways to meet critical state public health requirements while also focusing on keeping kids in school and childcare.”

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