Washington State Releases New COVID-19 School Rules

Alyse Messmer-Smith / The Bellingham Herald

As the school year quickly approaches for Washington State, the Washington State Department of Health has released updated COVID-19 guidelines for schools and daycares.

The new regulations come as Washington State “enters a new stage of coexistence with COVID-19 in our communities, knowing that COVID-19 is here to stay for the foreseeable future,” while the department “recognizes the importance of being able to maintain in-person learning for children and the fundamental links between education and long-term health outcomes,” reads a Department of Health press release.

Washington State’s COVID-19 requirements for schools and daycares include:

— All employees, volunteers and indoor contractors must be fully vaccinated or have an approved medical or religious exemption.

— If a staff member, student or child has symptoms of COVID-19, they should stay home and are recommended to be tested and see a health care provider. If a person starts having symptoms at school, they should be sent home immediately and encouraged to get tested.

— If an individual is symptomatic and waiting to leave school, they are required to self-isolate and wear a mask if they are at least two years old. Anyone providing care or assessment to the symptomatic person is required to wear personal protective equipment, such as a mask.

— A student, child or staff member who tests positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate. The person can return to school after five full days of isolation if they are asymptomatic, symptoms have improved, and they have not had a fever in the past 24 hours without the use of anti-inflammatory drugs. fever.

— All staff, visitors, children and students aged two and over are required to wear a mask in the infirmary or health room and in isolation areas.

— Schools and daycares should have a system in place to contact students and families of a COVID-19 case or outbreak. Schools are also required to notify staff of exposures and cases.

– K-12 schools are required to provide timely COVID-19 testing to students and staff who wish to be tested.

– Washington State law requires that all cases, outbreaks, and suspected outbreaks of COVID-19 in a school or daycare center be reported to the local health jurisdiction.

Vaccination

These new COVID-19 regulations do not require students and children to be vaccinated to attend schools or daycares.

For those who wish to vaccinate their children against COVID-19 before the start of the school year, children aged six months and older can now be vaccinated, and those aged five and older can receive booster doses, according to the health department.

Governor Jay Inslee has already required all Washington State school employees and child care providers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as all state employees, the higher education and most healthcare and long-term care providers by October 2021, and that employers verify the vaccination status of all employees.

As of 2014, all children in Washington State who attend school or daycare are also required by law to be fully immunized against chickenpox, mumps, diphtheria, German measles, measles, poliomyelitis, pneumococcal disease, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b disease.

Martha K. Merrill