State Returns to Mask Mandate in Schools

Posted July 30, 2021 at 5:00 am by

Vera Davidova on Unsplash, Contributed.

From the Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Health

Safe­ly return­ing to the class­room for full­time in-per­son instruc­tion this school year is impor­tant for stu­dents, teach­ers and staff.

July 28, the Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Health released updat­ed guid­ance for the 2021–22 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.

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 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 three 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.”

You can support the San Juan Update by doing business with our loyal advertisers, and by making a one-time contribution or a recurring donation.

Categories: Health & Wellness, Safety

No comments yet. Be the first!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By submitting a comment you grant the San Juan Update a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate, irrelevant and contentious comments may not be published at an admin's discretion. Your email is used for verification purposes only, it will never be shared.

Receive new post updates: Entries (RSS)
Receive followup comments updates: RSS 2.0