Today is the first day of no mask requirements at schools

DOH – Today is the first day of school that children will not be required to wear masks since they returned to in person learning.

The Washington State Department of Health has released new guidance for schools, child care, day camps, and other youth activities, with changes to masking rules that went into effect March 12. 

The DOH says this guidance is being announced in coordination with the end of Washington’s masking requirement.

They say the new guidance outlines a shorter set of requirements and continues to provide schools and child care providers with options they may utilize to prevent or mitigate transmission of COVID-19.

Key areas of focus include:

  • Layering optional prevention measures such as masks, screening tests, and ventilation that schools, child cares, or local health can implement generally, for higher risk activities, or in response to outbreaks or when disease levels are high.
  • Encouraging individuals to use COVID-19 prevention strategies through vaccination, distancing, testing, and masking for personal protection.

Some requirements remain:

  • Schools and child care providers must continue to report COVID-19 cases and outbreaks to public health and cooperate with investigations in accordance with WAC 246-101-420.
  • People with symptoms of COVID-19 must isolate and can return to school or care following the options within the guidance.
  • People with COVID-19 must isolate for at least five days and should wear a well-fitting mask or receive a negative test if they return between days 6 – 10. People who do not wear a mask or receive a negative test can return after day 10.
  • Schools must provide access to timely diagnostic testing for symptomatic students and staff and those who learn they may have been exposed.
  • Schools and child care providers must notify employees and children at risk for severe disease of potential COVID-19 exposures and keep their school or program community informed about cases and outbreaks.
  • Schools, districts, child care facilities, and local public health jurisdictions may implement more protective requirements at any time or in response to an outbreak or local surge of disease. More protective guidance must be followed.

The new guidance combines the following previous guidance documents into one document:

  • K-12 Schools Requirement for 2021-2022
  • K-12 Supplemental Considerations
  • Child Care, Day Camps, and Youth Development

The full guidance is available now.