Most School COVID Mitigation Requirements Relaxed
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released new guidelines for schools across the state, effective March 12, 2022. The new guidance is similar to national CDC guidance and comes at a time when we are seeing declines in COVID-19 cases across our region, state, and nation. The guidance includes both required COVID mitigation measures as well as suggested ones.
Here is a summary of some of the major changes:
- A new symptom decision tree was released to help visually outline changes.
- Many of the state-required COVID prevention measures that have been in place will become optional instead of required. This includes things like general masking and physical distancing. Schools and organizations are allowed to implement more robust prevention measures, if necessary.
- People who have COVID symptoms must continue to stay home and away from others, and get tested. This is required regardless of whether someone is vaccinated or not.
- Schools must still have a general process in place to notify groups of people of a positive COVID case, but individual contact tracing and notification of individual close contacts will no longer be required, unless the person exposed is considered high-risk for COVID infection.
- Schools are still required to offer access to COVID testing at school for students and staff.
The guidance changes signal a transition to endemic phase, where we learn to live with the virus as part of our daily lives.
Washington State Indoor Mask Requirements
Masks won’t go away altogether. They are currently still required in health care settings such as hospitals, long term care settings, and correctional facilities.
The statewide mask requirements for most indoor settings expired March 12. There are some exceptions to protect medically vulnerable people or to comply with federal requirements.
COVID-19 vaccine is available at many local pharmacies and medical offices. If you have a health care provider, check to see if they’re providing COVID-19 vaccinations.
To find a location near you offering COVID-19 vaccine:
Free Wi-Fi Map
In response to the impact of COVID-19, drive-in Wi-Fi hotspots provide free, temporary emergency internet access for Washingtonians who don’t have broadband service at their homes. Commerce has a Wi-Fi mapping tool on its website.
Washington 211 COVID-19 Call Center
Do you need information or answers to your questions and concerns about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)? You can call 1-800-525-0127 or text 211-211 for help. You can also text the word “Coronavirus” to 211-211 to receive information and updates on your phone wherever you are. You will receive links to the latest information on COVID-19, including county-level updates, and resources for families, businesses, students, and more.
Do you need support due to stress from COVID-19?
Call Washington Listens, a line that provides nonclinical support to people experiencing elevated stress due to COVID-19. People who call Washington Listens will speak to a support specialist and receive information and connection to community resources in their area. The program is anonymous and no identifying information is maintained. People who staff Washington Listens will receive basic training needed to provide support to individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic. To reach Washington Listens, call 1-833-681-0211. Read the Washington Listens fact sheet.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.