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Back-to-School Health Guidance 

Summary: Together we can keep our schools healthy and thriving throughout the upcoming school year and beyond. 

2022-23 SPS Health and Safety Guidance

Health and safety are top priorities for Seattle Public Schools (SPS). We continue to partner with staff and families to keep our school communities healthy throughout the 2022-23 school year. The district will also continue to follow health guidelines provided by the Washington state Department of Health (DOH) and Public Health—Seattle & King County (PHSKC). 

Keeping students and staff healthy

Vaccines and Boosters – COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are the best protection against serious illness from COVID-19. SPS has one of the highest vaccination rates in the nation thanks to the efforts of our families, schools, and partner medical providers. SPS will continue to offer vaccine and booster clinics. Find current dates and locations on the SPS Vaccine Page.  

Testing – SPS will continue to provide access to COVID-19 testing at schools. Washington state residents can order up to 10 free tests each month from the Washington State Department of Health. Most insurance covers the costs of up to eight self-tests per individual a month.  

School buildings – SPS buildings meet indoor air quality standards set by air quality professionals per DOH and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers recommendations. Common spaces will continue to be regularly cleaned. 

COVID-19 

Recently, the DOH updated its COVID-19 guidance for the start of school. Please keep these guidelines in mind as you and your student(s) head into the new school year. This guidance is subject to change throughout the school year.  

Symptoms, testing positive, and isolating

  • Anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 must stay home and should get tested for COVID-19.  
  • A person who tests positive for COVID-19 is required to isolate at home for five days. After five days, if symptoms improve and the person does not have a fever for at least 24 hours (without using fever-reducing medications), they can return to school or work. COVID-19 tests are encouraged before returning.  
  • If an individual tests positive after five days of isolation, they must stay at home for the full 10-day isolation period.  
  • Anyone returning to school or work after isolation should wear a well-fitted mask from day six to 10. These individuals should also remain masked for sports and other extracurricular activities.  
  • If an individual is unable to wear a well-fitting mask, they should continue to isolate for a full 10 days. 

Notifying families

  • Schools are required to have a process in place to notify families and staff about COVID-19 outbreaks.  
  • Schools are no longer required to directly notify high-risk students.  
  • SPS will maintain a dashboard for total COVID-19 cases within buildings. We will also communicate directly with families who are impacted by COVID-19 outbreaks in school buildings.  

According to the DOH, the following is no longer required at SPS facilities: 

  • Physical distancing 
  • Field trip restrictions 
  • Restrictions on assemblies and other gatherings  
  • Universal masking (except in medical spaces) 

SPS highly recommends the use of masks while at schools. The correct use of a well-fitting mask reduces the risk of spreading COVID-19. Students and staff may choose to wear a mask at school and in childcare settings, with the expectation that others’ choices will be respected. Masks will continue to be available in SPS buildings.  

Visit the SPS COVID-19 Dashboard and COVID-19 response page for additional information. 

Together we can keep our schools healthy and thriving throughout the upcoming school year and beyond. 

Monkeypox virus (MPV) 

Another infectious disease in Washington state and the U.S. is MPV. SPS encourages all staff and families to consider the DOH and PHSKC guidance to staying safe from this illness.  

What is MPV?   

MPV is an infection that can cause a rash — which may appear as bumps or blisters on the skin. It may also cause flu-like symptoms. The virus is rarely fatal but can be serious for those who have weakened immune systems, children, and pregnant people.    

How is the virus spread?   

According to PHSKC, MPV can spread from close, skin-to-skin contact between people. Anyone can get the virus.  

How to prevent illness.  

The state DOH recommends avoiding close or skin-to-skin contact with anyone who has open wounds, sores, or rashes, or anyone who is infected with MPV. Close contact can include being together for several hours, hugging, cuddling, kissing, or sharing a bed or clothing.   

If you have been exposed to MPV, it’s important to get vaccinated as soon as possible. This may prevent infection. Contact your health care provider or local health department for more information.   

What SPS is doing to keep students and staff safe. 

SPS is partnering with DOH and PHSKC, and following their guidance to keep our school communities safe from MPV.  

Additional information about the precautions the district is taking regarding the spread of infectious diseases is available on the SPS website and SPS Health Services webpage.  

Please visit the DOH and PHSKC websites for more information.   

You may also be interested in

Flu and COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics

Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines including boosters at a Seattle Public Schools vaccination clinic for children and adults.

MPV Health and Safety Resources

MPV is an infection that can cause a rash and flu-like symptoms.

Tips for Staying Healthy

During the colder months, we encourage our community to take the following steps to limit the spread of RSV and other respiratory illnesses.