DOH: New COVID-19 guidelines for schools, childcare providers in WA

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released its new COVID-19 guidelines for K-12 schools and childcare providers for the 2022-23 school year on Wednesday.

According to the DOH, the state has reached a new stage of coexisting with COVID-19, and these new guidelines reflect the knowledge health leaders have gained after two and a half years of navigating through the pandemic. 

Here are the latest required and recommended measures provided by the DOH: 

  • Students, children, and staff who test positive for COVID-19 are required to stay at home and isolate for 5 days. Repeating initial COVID-19 testing will not affect this requirement.
  • Students, children, and staff returning from 5 days of isolation should wear a well-fitted mask from days 6 to 10. Those returning are encouraged to test before doing so.
  • Schools and childcare providers are no longer required to notify high-risk individuals of exposure, but must continue to have a process in place to inform students, staff, and families of cases and outbreaks.
  • Schools and childcare providers continue to be required to report outbreaks (3 or more cases within a specified core group) to local health jurisdictions (LHJ), and to have a system in place to respond.

While these guidelines are specific to COVID, the DOH says these preventative measures can also reduce the spread of more familiar viruses, like the flu. Schools and childcare providers are asked to view the DOH’s overviews on the guideline changes. Those can be found by clicking here. 

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Schools and childcare providers are encouraged by the DOH to stay up-to-date on regional COVID cases, hospitalizations and outbreaks whenever adopting additional measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

The DOH says the best protection from severe illness is to get vaccinated. The COVID-19 vaccine is now available for children six months and older. Booster shots are also available for children five years and older.