COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidance and Requirements
Last Updated: August 25, 2022
The health and safety of students and staff remain our top priority as we enter another school year coexisting with COVID-19. The requirements and recommendations on this page are based on the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) Requirements and Guidance to Mitigate COVID-19 Transmission in K-12 Schools and Child Care and on local requirements from the Whatcom County Health Department (WCHD). This page is updated as public health requirements, guidance and resources change.
Regardless of vaccination, staff and students should not come to school if they are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19. Follow the DOH symptom flowchart.
Common Symptoms Include:
- Cough (new, changed, worse)
- Fever (100.4)
- Loss of taste or smell
- Muscle or body aches
- Shortness of breath
- Runny nose or congestion
- Sore throat
- Nausea or vomiting, diarrhea
Staff and students may return if no fever within the past 24 hours, symptoms have improved and they test negative for COVID-19.
If symptoms persist, DOH recommends re-testing every 1-2 days for 5 days after symptom onset.
If a student develops symptoms during the school day, they will be sent to the health room and asked to put on a mask, as the health room is considered a health care setting.
Parents/guardians will be called. If the student is well enough to finish the day, trained staff may administer a rapid antigen test with parent/guardian consent and return to class if the test is negative. If unable to reach a parent/guardian, staff may test if there is a current signed consent form on file.
Every family is required to have up-to-date contact information and emergency contacts in Skyward.
Persons who test positive for COVID-19 are required to isolate for 5 days from symptom onset or test collection date if no symptoms (day 0= date of symptom onset or test collection).
Please notify school of a positive test. Persons may return on day 6 if fever-free for 24 hours and symptoms have improved. Students and staff should wear a mask days 6-10. Those unable to wear a mask should complete the full 10 day isolation. Testing before returning is encouraged but not required. If you continue to test positive, complete the full 10 day isolation. Testing after day 10 is not recommended.
Call your health care provider or see the DOH website for consultation and a free telehealth visit for antiviral treatment if you qualify.
Rapid antigen testing for those experiencing symptoms or with a known exposure is available at all schools.
You can request, find and/or schedule a COVID-19 test at:
- Your school or the district office
- Your health care provider or pharmacy
- Whatcom County Health Department 360-778-6075
- By Mail: Order at https://sayyescovidhometest.org/ or https://www.covid.gov/tests
- PCR testing is available at Avero Diagnostics Drive-Thru lab at 3548 Meridian St, Suite 101 in Bellingham. To schedule, visit TestDirectly.com or call 360-527-4592.
iHealth instructional video here
BPS will continue to partner with DOH and Health Commons Project to offer free COVID-19 testing at every school. This program provides students, staff, and families with quick and accurate COVID-19 testing as symptoms arise or following a known exposure. Currently, we have Bianax and CareStart rapid antigen tests available for onsite testing and iHealth rapid antigen test kits available for home use.
Information for students:
The COVID-19 vaccine is now authorized for children ages 6 months to 4 years old. Everyone ages 5 and up is eligible for a booster.
We encourage all families to consider immunizing their student against COVID-19 to protect their child’s and family’s health and also the health of our schools and community. View the Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine informational flyer "What Parents of Minors Should Know."
Vaccine facts from the CDC:
- COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and help protect you from getting sick or severely ill with COVID-19.
- You may have side effects after vaccination, but these are normal.
- Vaccines are covered through health insurance. If you do not have health insurance you can still get vaccinated for free at the Health Department's clinics.
- It typically takes two weeks after vaccination for the body to build protection (immunity) against the virus that causes COVID-19. You are fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or two weeks after a one-dose vaccine.
- If you have already had COVID-19, the CDC recommends that you still get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Learn more facts about COVID-19 vaccines at the CDC website.
Health insurance required beginning April 5
Beginning April 5, the cost of the COVID vaccine is no longer covered for those without health insurance. Insurance may be required at community-hosted clinics, but no insurance is required at Whatcom County Health Department’s clinics.
Vaccine appointments in the community:
The Whatcom County Health Department has weekly clinics serving all ages and they are listed on their website.
Here are some other options:
- Both Rite Aid and Walgreens have many open appointments and you can schedule online.
- If you are a SeaMar patient or don’t have a provider, the Cordata clinic has walk-up vaccines available (no appointments needed). Find more information here.
- If you are a PeaceHealth patient, you should be able to get a vaccine during a regular office visit using the online patient portal.
- Haggen’s pharmacies have walk-ups and online scheduling (plus you get 10% off your grocery purchase). You can call ahead to be sure they have vaccine.
Call Washington State Department of Health’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-833-VAX-HELP (833-829-4357) for assistance. They can tell you which locations near you offer the COVID-19 vaccine, and help you schedule an appointment if needed. This line also has Spanish, Russian, Punjabi and other language options.
Students and staff are still asked to notify schools if they test positive for COVID-19.
Our Health Services Team will determine if the person was at school contagious and update the district's COVID-19 dashboard.
We will continue to monitor for outbreaks. In the event of an outbreak, we will follow WCHD outbreak response requirements (same as last spring).
Students and staff exposed to COVID-19 may continue to come to school, including sports, performing arts, and other extracurricular activities, as long as they are not symptomatic.
DOH recommends testing after exposure, monitoring for symptoms and wearing a mask for 10 days after the last exposure. When there is continuous exposure in the home, testing is recommended every 1-2 days until 5 days after the last positive household member's isolation has ended.
Correct use of well-fitting masks protects the wearer as well as others which reduces the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. While masks are no longer universally required, there will be times when masks are worn:
- Masks are still required in school health/nurse rooms for staff and students.
- There may be situations when the WCHD requires masks such as during an outbreak.
- Staff and students returning on day 6 or after from isolating at home with COVID-19, should wear a mask for days 6-10.
- Public health recommends wearing a mask for 10 days after an exposure to COVID-19.
- Students and staff may choose to wear a mask at school and mask choices will be respected. Individuals who are immunocompromised, medically fragile or otherwise at high risk for severe disease, should consult their health care provider about whether to wear a mask.
We will continue to offer well-fitting masks to staff and students who choose to wear a mask.
Masks will continue to be a useful tool in preventing the spread of respiratory illnesses. BPS is committed to supporting staff, students and their families in their choice to wear a mask and fostering respect and kindness towards each other. Key points from the mask lessons from the 2021-2022 school year include:
- There are many reasons why someone may choose to wear or not wear a mask, and those reasons may change over time.
- Show mutual respect, concern and kindness to one another.
- Understand that each person’s needs and story are unique and valuable.
- Tell an adult if you witness or experience mistreatment or bullying related to masking.
If mask-wearing is part of a health plan or individual education plan (504 or IEP), then staff are asked to help enforce the health/education plan. Otherwise, we encourage families to talk with their child about mask-wearing expectations and preferences. Staff will not be responsible for tracking and monitoring individual family mask-wearing preferences.