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Schools and child care programs

Information and resources on COVID-19 for schools and childcare programs.

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) recently announced new guidance on What To Do When You Are Sick With COVID-19 or Another Respiratory Virus. The isolation and exclusion recommendations in DOH's May 2023 COVID-19 Guidance for Schools and Child Cares are now out of date; all other sections are still relevant.

2023-2024 Letter for K-12 Schools:
Guidance letter from Public Health – Seattle & King County to school partners outlining changes to the COVID‑⁢19 reporting processes for K-12 schools. 

COVID-19, flu and RSV prevention strategies

The same strategies used to prevent and respond to COVID-19 also work to control the spread of other respiratory illnesses, including flu and RSV. These prevention strategies include:

  • Monitoring for symptoms and sending individuals home when they are sick
  • Enhancing ventilation to reduce viruses in indoor spaces
  • Encouraging frequent handwashing and good respiratory etiquette
  • Cleaning and disinfecting
  • Having a process in place to inform students, children, employees and families when there are cases or outbreaks
  • Encouraging children and employees to stay up to date on vaccinations, including COVID-19 and influenza (“the flu”)
  • Wearing well-fitting masks correctly if there is an outbreak or after a COVID-19 exposure at a school or child care

In response to recent Washington Department of Health (DOH) updates to the Guidance to Prevent and Respond to COVID-19 in K-12 Schools and Child Cares, reporting COVID-19 cases among staff and students is optional. However, please continue to report COVID-19 outbreaks and other suspected outbreaks to PHSKC per the Washington Administrative Code (WAC 246-101). The current guidance from DOH defines a COVID-19 outbreak as meeting criteria either from numbers 1 or 2 below, as well as from number 3:

  1. At least 5 cases within a specified core group (e.g., classroom, extracurricular activity, before/after school care) that meet criteria for a COVID-19 case from a positive test
  2. Multiple COVID-19 cases from positive tests comprising at least 20% of students, teachers, or staff within a specified core group.
  3. All the following criteria are met:
    • Initial cases have a symptom onset or positive test result within 7 days of each other.
    • There is no evidence that transmission was more likely to have occurred in another setting outside of school (e.g., household or outside social contact).
    • Cases are linked in the school setting or a school sanctioned extracurricular activity.

Child care or early learning programs

To report a positive case or outbreak of COVID-19 in your program:

Please explore the Child Care Health Program page, which includes information on many important health and safety topics. You may also email questions directly to the Child Care Health Program at

K-12 Schools

Submit your initial report if you identify an outbreak as defined by the Washington Department of Health Guidance to Prevent and Respond to COVID-19 in K-12 Schools and Childcares. If your school is already set up with weekly reporting, please continue to report in the same manner. If you have any questions, please reach out to

Parents and guardians

If a child tests positive for COVID-19, please report the case to their school or child care program immediately. This helps to stop the virus from spreading, protect kids and employees, and keep facilities open.