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Masks required for all K-12 students and staff heading back to the classroom

On July 28 2021, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released updated guidance 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.

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.

Read the full news release here.

To view the full updated guidance for the 2021-2022 school year click here.