Stock photo

Stock photo

Masks to be required at K-12 schools in Washington state

State Department of Health updates guidance for 2021-2022 school year

  • By Steve Hunter shunter@soundpublishing.com
  • Wednesday, July 28, 2021 4:02pm
  • Northwest

Masks will be required for all K-12 students and staff heading back to the classroom in Washington state.

Safely returning to the classroom for full time in-person instruction this school year is important for students, teachers, and staff. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released updated guidance Wednesday, July 28 for the 2021-2022 school year.

DOH’s guidance aims to minimize transmission and maximize in-person instruction and is informed by the latest science, recently released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, and recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, according to a DOH news release.

Vaccination is the strongest protective measure against COVID-19 available. Everyone 12 and older is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. As of July 24, 35% of 12-15-year-olds and 44% of 16-17-year-olds in Washington state were fully vaccinated. Those who have not been vaccinated are encouraged to make an appointment as soon as possible.

While children who get COVID-19 typically have milder symptoms than adults, children do get COVID-19 and can transmit it. Severe disease is rare, but some children require hospitalization. Further, the Delta variant, which spreads more than twice as easily from one person to another compared to earlier strains, has surged to become the predominant variant in Washington.

Given this, the high mixing of vaccinated and unvaccinated people in schools, and the fact that vaccines are not available to children younger than 12, universal masking is required in all Washington state K-12 schools.

To protect those who have not been vaccinated and reduce risk of transmission, public and private K-12 schools must use the following layered prevention strategies:

• All school personnel, volunteers, visitors, and students must wear cloth face coverings or masks regardless of vaccination status when indoors and on school buses.

• Schools should maintain at least 3 feet of physical distancing between students in classroom settings, to the degree possible and reasonable, that allows for full-time, in-person learning for all students.

• Schools must have good ventilation and indoor air quality, cleaning and disinfecting procedures, and continue to encourage frequent handwashing and good respiratory etiquette.

• Students and school employees who have symptoms of COVID-19 or the flu should stay home and seek medical attention, which may include COVID-19 testing.

• Schools must have plans in place to quickly respond to COVID-19 cases among students and staff.

Quarantine protocols have been updated to limit student exclusion from the classroom. Students do not have to quarantine if symptom free and: they were at least 3 feet away from an infected student and both students were wearing masks, the student is fully vaccinated, or if the student had a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the past three months.

“The goal of these layered prevention strategies is to protect people who are not fully vaccinated, including students, staff, and their families from COVID-19 infections,” said Deputy Secretary Lacy Fehrenbach. “Outbreaks can and have occurred in K-12 schools. These measures limit transmission in schools which will minimize the disruptions of quarantines and classroom or school closures caused by outbreaks. It is important we do everything we can to keep our classrooms safe, students and staff healthy, and schools open.”


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@redmond-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.redmond-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Northwest

Fedor Osipov, 15, flips into Steel Lake in Federal Way during last year's heatwave on June 28, 2021. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Heatwave expected to hit King County

Temperatures will likely reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, June 26, and Monday, June 27.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII: Examining Auburn police officer’s grim tattoos

Episode 5 in special podcast series that explores Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

t
Sound Transit Board approves Julie Timm as new CEO at $375,000 per year

She replaces Peter Rogoff who left in May after board voted to replace him

t
Statewide task force to tackle organized retail crime rings

Group brings law enforcement, prosecutors, retailers together to combat growing problem

Photo courtesy of King County.
Officials urge caution when swimming this summer

Cold spring temperatures and larger than normal snowpack have created dangerous conditions

A semiautomatic handgun with a safety cable lock that prevents loading ammunition. (Sound Publishing file photo)
Large-capacity ammo magazine sales ban starts soon in Washington

Starting July 1, a 10-round capacity becomes the limit for sales. Meanwhile, “there is a rush on magazine purchasing.”

t
Oak Harbor man arrested on $1 million bail for alleged hate crime

Yelled threat at Whidbey Island woman; reportedly posted online comments about killing gay people

At Dash Point on June 16, 2022. Henry Stewart-Wood/Sound Publishing
All that the tides reveal: Puget Sound’s hidden intertidal world

Exploring King County beaches during the lowest tide in the last 13 years.

Washington State Capitol Building. File photo
Foes of state’s capital gains tax drop plans for initiative

I-1929 sponsors say they are confident a lawsuit challenging the legality of the tax will be successful.

Most Read