Changes to COVID protocols in schools

A Message from the COVID safety team

We are grateful for the improved health of our community, and we are hopeful as we enter a new phase of the pandemic.

The Washington state Department of Health (DOH) has released new guidance for schools in response to updated state masking rules and the continued decline of cases and hospitalizations due to COVID-19. Here are some of the highlights, which go into effect March 12:

Masking

The main change is that masks are optional in all settings, including schools, buses, performing arts and athletics, with the exception of school health rooms. See our recent message about how we are teaching into this change and cultivating empathy about individuals’ choices. We will continue to have adult and child masks and PPE available at all schools and sites. See below for mask procedures if you test positive for COVID-19.

Notifications of exposures

While we are no longer required to contact trace, we will continue to update our dashboard.

Testing

  • Testing is no longer required for unvaccinated students and staff who are close contacts to continue to attend school (e.g. Test to Stay).
  • Screening testing is no longer required for athletics.
  • Testing continues to be available for staff and students at our schools and the Family Resource Center at Shuksan Middle School, with a focus on symptomatic students and staff.
  • At-home rapid tests will be available to families in the front office on a weekly basis beginning Monday, March 14. Please come to your school’s front office to pick up tests.

Returning to school or work after testing positive

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may return on day six if you have been fever-free for 24 hours and your symptoms are improving.

Public health offers three options to return to school/work:

  1. wear a mask for days 6-10,
  2. test negative with rapid antigen test after day five (wearing mask is optional) or
  3. isolate at home for 10 days.

As always, we ask that all staff, families and students

  • Get vaccinated or boosted against COVID if you are eligible.
  • Stay home if sick and watch for symptoms of COVID if exposed. If symptoms develop, isolate and get tested.
  • Monitor for symptoms and consider wearing a mask for 10 days and get tested if exposed to COVID.
  • Continue to inform front office staff if your child tests positive for COVID.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we make these changes. Please continue to refer to our COVID-19 webpage for updated information. You can email bps.health@bellinghamschools.org if you have additional questions or feedback.

Thank you for being a part of our collective commitment to keep our community healthy.