Page updated: August 6, 2021 at 3:27 p.m.
Students are returning to the classroom this fall at the direction of Governor Inslee, the Secretary of Health, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Following recommendations and guidelines from the CDC, they have determined that all students will have the opportunity to attend school in-person full time (five days per week) in the 2021–22 school year. School districts will not have the option to provide solely hybrid or remote learning.
School closures over the past two school years have disrupted learning, families, and employment. Students missed out on many of the benefits that come from being in the classroom with peers and teachers, including easy access to meals, technology, physical activity, counselors, and other supportive services. With kids schooled remotely, parents who worked from home have had to juggle work responsibilities and child-rearing, while others have had to find childcare to fill in the void that schools had once filled.
As students return to classrooms, the Washington State Department of Health and Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction have identified two goals:
Recent research and experience show that in-person learning can happen safely when multiple prevention steps are followed. Those steps include required vaccination of school staff and recommended vaccination of students over the age of 12, universal face coverings/masks, physical distancing, hand washing, cleaning/disinfection, ventilation, school-based testing, contact tracing, and isolation/quarantine.
Washington State school districts are required to provide in-person learning, but they are not required to provide a remote option. We suggest you speak to your school district if you have questions about in-person vs. remote learning.
Masks (or a face shield with a drape for those with developmental, behavioral, or medical conditions) are required indoors for all staff and students, in compliance with the Secretary of Health’s Mask Order. Staff who are verified to be fully vaccinated can work indoors without masks when students aren’t present.
According to the Secretary of Health’s Mask Order, masking is not required outdoors, regardless of vaccination status. Masks are, however, strongly recommended for unvaccinated individuals when outdoors in crowded spaces or when in close contact with others.
Yes. The CDC’s order requiring masks on public transportation, regardless of vaccination status, applies to school buses and transportation.
The definition of a “close contact” varies depending on whether the student is in a classroom or is somewhere else at school. If the contact is between two masked students within a classroom, close contact is defined as within 3 feet. Elsewhere in a school, or if an adult is the case or the contact, or if either of the students are not appropriately masked, close contact is defined as within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes over 24 hours.
In a K-12 indoor classroom, the close contact definition excludes students who were at least three feet away from an infected student when (a) both students were wearing face coverings/masks and (b) other prevention strategies were in place.
The most recent guidance related to masking and testing requirements for school sports can be found here.
Businesses, recreation sites, and venues are open at full capacity (provided they meet workplace safety requirements), except large indoor events hosting 10,000 or more people which are open at 75% capacity.
The mask mandate has been expanded to include fully vaccinated people. Effective August 23, everyone will be required to wear masks in indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status. As of September 13, masks are also required at outdoor venues hosting 500 or more attendees.
Vaccines are still our best defense against COVID-19, but no vaccine is 100% effective and masks provide an additional layer of defense against the highly transmissible Delta variant. See our masking page for more details.
To find out more, visit www.coronavirus.wa.gov.
If you have insurance:
If you do not have insurance:
Contact tracers, or case/contact investigators (CCIs) call people who are diagnosed with COVID-19 and their close contacts.
They talk with each person who has received a positive COVID-19 test to find out:
Once we know this information, we reach out to each person who is a close contact to:
CCIs will ask a few identifying questions:
CCIs will never ask for your:
For more information on how to avoid scammers, visit Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information: Help COVID-19 contact tracers, not scammers.
To find out more, see our COVID-19 Case Investigation fact sheet.
Identifying close contacts and informing them to stay home and monitor for symptoms is an important public health response. If you haven't been contacted, there may be a couple of reasons why:
If you have questions, you can call us at 360-778-6100.
Data regarding confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our community can be found on our COVID-19 Data Dashboard. We protect private health information and only share limited details about COVID-19 cases.
We get this question a lot. The main reasons are:
Variants of concern are newly evolved strains, or variants, of COVID-19 that may be more highly transmissible, cause more severe illness, or resist vaccination. New variants make up the vast majority of new COVID-19 cases in Washington state.
Five variants of concern have been identified in Washington State as of June 22, 2021. Those variants are:
For more information about new COVID-19 variants, visit DOH's COVID-19 Variants page.
The good news is that all the prevention strategies we know work against the original COVID-19 strain work against these variants too. Take the following precautions to protect yourself against variants of concern: