Schools and child care programs
Public Health – Seattle & King County follows the the COVID-19 guidance for schools and child care from the Washington Department of Health. All schools and child cares should establish a core set of infectious disease prevention strategies as part of everyday operations. Additional disease prevention strategies may be needed if there is a COVID-19 outbreak, an increase in individuals with COVID-19, or high absenteeism due to respiratory illness in a school or child care.
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
Here are some PHSKC resources to support disease prevention and reduce transmission in schools and child care programs:
- COVID-19 tests: Child care administrators can request over-the-counter COVID-19 test kits. Supplies are limited.
- Free Indoor Air Quality Assessment: Request a ventilation and filtration assessment. This form is available in multiple languages.
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:
- 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
- Multiple COVID-19 cases from positive tests comprising at least 20% of students, teachers, or staff within a specified core group.
- 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:
- Complete a Respiratory Illness Intake Survey online (available in English and Spanish).
- You may also call 206-296-4774 to report.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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.
- Guidance to Prevent and Respond to COVID-19 in K-12 Schools and Child Cares, Washington State Department of Health (DOH)
Resources and Recommendations, DOH
Look for the “Schools and Child Care” section.
- What to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms decision tree, DOH
Link/share our site at kingcounty.gov/covid/schools