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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

State issues new COVID-19 guidelines for schools in Washington

“I can see all your beautiful faces,” said Roosevelt second-grade teacher Amy Krauss to her student Maggie Byrne, 8, who was lining up with maskless classmates outside the school on Monday, March 14, 2022.  (Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review)

The Washington State Department of Health on Wednesday issued updated COVID-19 guidance for school districts.

“We are entering a new stage of coexisting with COVID-19 in our communities, knowing that COVID-19 is here to stay for the foreseeable future,” said Dr. Umair A. Shah, the state’s secretary of health.

“DOH also recognizes the importance of being able to maintain in-person learning for children, and the fundamental links between education and long-term health outcomes,” Shah said.

The updates bring “limited changes focused on clarifying and simplifying the guidance,” DOH said.

With the first day of school only a few weeks away, DOH issued specific requirements on Wednesday:

• Students, children and staff who test positive for COVID-19 are required to isolate for five days. Repeating COVID-19 testing does not affect this requirement.

• Students, children and staff returning from isolation should wear a well-fitted mask from days six to 10. Those returning are encouraged to test before doing so.

• Schools and child care providers are no longer required to directly notify high-risk people of exposure but must continue to have a process to inform students, staff and families of cases and outbreaks.

• Schools and child care providers continue to be required to report outbreaks (three or more cases within a group) to local health jurisdictions and to have a system in place to respond.

Schools, child care providers and the local health districts may choose to implement more measures, DOH added.

DOH encouraged schools and child care providers to consider local conditions when selecting any additional measures, and to coordinate with their local health jurisdiction, particularly during times of outbreak.