It’s that time of year again. As much as we’d love to hold on to Seattle’s summer, with its fresh outdoor fun, fall is almost here. Back to school means rain jackets, backpacks and kids spending more time indoors. As we see almost every year, it’s easy for children to spread germs like the common cold, flu, and COVID-19, since respiratory viruses spread more easily indoors.
As parents, we want our children to be safe and happy at school. We can send our children to school with a bigger mind, knowing that we are protecting them and others as best we can. This year’s back-to-school COVID-19 prevention guidelines may also help reduce the transmission of other common respiratory viruses, such as the flu.
Worrying about our children getting COVID-19 while at school is no fun. And unfortunately, COVID-19 is not going away. That’s why it’s so important to keep wearing masks, make sure your family is up to date on vaccines, and stay home from work and school and away from others for 5 days or more when you or your children you feel sick. .
Here are some things to know about this year’s back-to-school COVID-19 safety requirements and guidelines:
Vaccines are required on the first day of the 2022-03 school year
K-12 students in Washington state must be up to date on required immunizations for school on or before the first day. This is whether they will attend classes in person or remotely. Along with pencils and notebooks, vaccines like Tdap, DTap, MMR, Hepatitis B, Varicella, and Polio may be on your child’s back-to-school list. There are also vaccines against COVID-19, HPV and meningococcal that your child may need to stay healthy and happy.
Free vaccination clinics in King County
Health care professionals at our free immunization events in King County will be on hand to answer your questions and provide needed immunizations. You do not need insurance or proof of immigration status. Just bring your child, immunization records if you have them, and a book or toy to occupy them while you wait.
Vaccines against COVID-19 are the best way to protect your child from developing long-term symptoms or severe illness from COVID-19
Many children have not completed their first series of vaccines against COVID-19. Part of this is due to vaccine hesitancy, misinformation or other barriers. It can help to know that vaccines for children are safe and well-tested. Trusted health care professionals such as pediatrician Dr. Ben Danielson and Dr. Helen Stankiewicz Karita of UW Medicine, Dr. Ahmed Ali of the Somali Health Board and Dr. Iman Yunis of Othello Pharmacy, agrees that vaccinating your children is the best way to protect them and the community from a serious illness that could cause them to miss school. They answer common parenting questions in a series of videos, like this one from Dr. Ben about why the vaccine is safe for children.
Make an appointment with your pediatrician, pharmacy, or health care provider
To get your teens, young adults, children, and toddlers up to date on COVID-19 vaccines, make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician or health care provider or check our vaccine locations page. Vaccinations against COVID-19 remain the best protection for everyone against hospitalization and serious illness from COVID-19. The vaccine against COVID-19 is now available for children 6 months and older. Booster doses are also available for children 5 years and older.
Schools and childcare may require you to wear a mask
Be sure to put a suitable mask in your child’s backpack. And thank you for respecting people’s choices to continue wearing a mask. Wearing a high-quality mask remains an important tool to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
People who are immunocompromised, unvaccinated, or feeling ill should wear masks to protect themselves and others when in public indoor spaces such as schools. Preschool and childcare children ages 2-4 are encouraged to wear a mask under adult supervision. Babies and toddlers under the age of 2 should never wear masks.
What to do if you or your child tests positive for COVID-19
Getting sick means at least 5 days missed from school and work, which can be especially difficult for parents who can’t afford to miss days or without access to childcare. But it’s also very important that your family gets better and doesn’t spread COVID to others. If you or your child is showing symptoms of COVID-19, even if you don’t have test results yet, you should stay home to protect others. If you need food or other assistance while in isolation, please call the state’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-525-0127, then press #1.
Parents and children who test positive for COVID-19 are asked to stay home and self-isolate for at least 5 days.
Note: You will need to stay home for those 5 days, even if you test again and get a negative test during that time.
- You can return to work and school if your test is negative on day 5.
- If your test is positive, continue to isolate for another 5 days.
- Continue to wear a suitable mask around others for 10 days and 11 days around people at high risk for COVID-19.
- When students and children return from 5 days of isolation, they must wear a properly fitted mask from day 6 to 10.
- Students should test before returning to school, if possible.
Learn how to do a COVID-19 self-test for yourself or your child in the video below and don’t forget to book your FREE COVID-19 self-tests.
Don’t risk children bringing home COVID-19 with their homework
Protecting the health of our children also protects the school community, especially the most vulnerable, such as immunocompromised teachers and classmates, and older adults like grandparents. We know it’s not easy to keep up with changing instruction, but your efforts as we go back to school are critical. Thanks for all you do!
For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine for children and teens, visit kingcounty.gov/vaccine/youth.
Originally posted on August 23, 2022.