COVID-19 recommendations

Recommendations for schools

The risk of COVID-19 being introduced into schools depends on the level of COVID-19 spread in the community. At this time, any degree of in-person instruction will present some risk of infection to students and school staff.

Stop the spread of COVID-19

While children generally have mild COVID-19 disease, serious infections have occurred. Teachers and other school staff may be at risk for more serious disease, particularly older adults and those with certain underlying health conditions. Students and staff who get infected with COVID-19 can spread the virus to others in the school and the community.

While COVID-19 exposures may occur in school settings, data indicates that rigorous health and safety measures can limit transmission of COVID-19 in schools. Measures such as small groupings of students, ensuring physical distancing, wearing face coverings, frequent handwashing, and increased cleaning and disinfecting are imperative for reducing the risk of virus transmission in schools. The Washington State Department of Health recommends comprehensive and strict health and safety measures.

The Washington State Department of Health encourages local health departments to work with school administrators to evaluate public health considerations regarding in-person learning. However, school administrators are ultimately responsible for establishing appropriate education services.

The Washington State Department of Health recommends school leaders consider COVID-19 activity levels – such as case rates, percent of positive tests, and trends in cases and hospitalizations – as well as the educational, social and emotional benefits of in-person learning for students. Washington State Department of Health’s K-12 Metrics and Toolkit provides the following recommendations based on COVID-19 activity in the community:

High COVID-19 activity: More than 350 cases per 100,000 people over 14 days, test positivity greater than 10%

  • In-person learning for pre-kindergarten through grade 5. Schools should prioritize the youngest learners (pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and grades 1-3) and those with the highest needs (any grade), such as students with disabilities, students living homeless, or those farthest from educational justice, using small group instruction of 15 or fewer students and strict grouping of students. If schools can demonstrate the ability to limit transmission in schools, then phase in grades 4-5 in small groups.
  • Cancel or postpone most in-person extra-curricular activities, except those allowed under Safe Start Plan and the governor’s proclamations on COVID-19.

Moderate COVID-19 activity: 50 to 350 cases per 100,000 people over 14 days, test positivity of 5-10%

  • Phasing of in-person learning, beginning with elementary students not already in-person and middle school students. If schools can demonstrate the ability to limit transmission in schools, add high school students after middle school students, and when rates drop below 200 cases per 100,000 over 14 days.
  • Extra-curricular activities must follow K-12, applicable Safe Start Plan protocols and the governor’s proclamations on COVID-19. 

Low COVID-19 activity: Less than 50 cases per 100,000 people over 14 days, test positivity of less than 5%

  • In-person learning for all students, prioritizing full time in-person learning for elementary school students. If space allows, full time in-person learning can be added for middle and high school students.
  • Extra-curricular activities must follow K-12, applicable Safe Start Plan protocols and the governor’s proclamations on COVID-19.

Public Health calculates the current COVID-19 activity level in Clark County once a week and posts the updated rate on the website every Tuesday. See the COVID-19 data webpage for the current COVID-19 activity level.

Information about outbreaks in local public and private K-12 schools is available on the COVID-19 cases in schools page. Additional resources for schools and parents are available on COVID-19 resources page.

How can I keep myself and others healthy?

prevent COVID-19

Clark County Public Health is urging everyone to take steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community:

  • Wear face coverings. Cloth face coverings should be worn anytime you are in public or gather with others from outside of your household.
  • Give space. Stay at least 6 feet away from other people, in public and anytime you're around people you don't live with.
  • Don't congregate. Gatherings should be small (no more than five people) and infrequent.

Everyday practices to prevent colds, influenza and other respiratory illnesses can also protect people against coronaviruses, including COVID-19. Clark County Public Health recommends people take the following actions to keep themselves healthy:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. Use a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Stay home and away from others when sick.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched.

 What should I do if I have symptoms?

Anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 should contact their health care provider about testing as soon as possible. Early testing is critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Clark County.

Here is guidance for people who have or think they have COVID-19:

People who are unable to access testing through their regular health care provider, those who do not have a health care provider or those who are uninsured can find providers offering testing on our COVID-19 testing webpage.

Face covering requirements

Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman issued a health order mandating the use of cloth face coverings, effective June 26.

Face coverings are required in all common spaces, such as public buildings, businesses, health care facilities, shared hallways of apartment buildings and hotels, elevators, while riding public transportation or in a taxi or ride-sharing vehicle. Face coverings are also required when outdoors and unable to maintain physical distancing.

people wearing face coverings

The mandate applies to those 5 years and older. Face coverings are recommended, but not required, for children 2 to 5 years old while in public places. Children younger than 2 should not wear face coverings. There are exemptions for people with certain disabilities or health conditions.

Gov. Inslee issued an order, effective July 7, that requires businesses to enforce the use of face coverings by all customers and visitors. Under the order, businesses cannot provide goods or services to those who are not following the face covering mandate.

Report businesses suspected of violating the governor's order here.

All employees are also required to wear cloth face coverings or face masks, except when working alone in an office, vehicle, or at a job site. Employers must provide cloth face coverings to employees, unless their exposure dictates a higher level of protection.

Refer to the state Department of Labor & Industries’ Coronavirus Facial Covering and Mask Requirements or their Which Mask for Which Task guide for more information. Labor & Industries also an online mask tool to help employees select the appropriate face coverings. And visit the Department of Labor & Industries' website for answers to frequently asked questions regarding the face covering requirement.

Additional information about the face covering requirements are available on the Washington State Department of Health website and the state Coronavirus Response website.

What are cloth face coverings?

A cloth face covering is fabric that covers the nose and mouth. It can be:

  • A sewn mask secured with ties or straps around the head or behind the ears
  • A piece of fabric tied around a person’s head
  • Made from variety of materials, such as fleece, cotton or linen
  • Factory-made or made from household items such as scarfs, T-shirts or towels

Cloth face coverings are not a replacement for physical distancing or limiting contact with others. Face coverings also do not replace the need to frequently wash hands with soap and water, avoid touching your face with unwashed hands and stay away from people who are sick. Taking all of these steps, in addition to wearing face coverings, are important for staying healthy and preventing the spread of COVID-19.

How do cloth face coverings work?

Cloth face coverings are intended to protect others, not yourself. People infected with the virus causing COVID-19 may not have any symptoms (asymptomatic) but still spread the virus. And people who are infected can spread the virus up to two days before they develop symptom (pre-symptomatic).

When a person who is already infected with the virus (even if they don’t have symptoms) wears a cloth face covering, it can prevent the spread of infection to others by blocking droplets from spreading when the person coughs, sneezes or speaks.

To be effective, face coverings should be worn consistently. Be sure to wash hands before putting on a fabric mask and after taking it off, and be careful not to touch your face with unwashed hands if adjusting the mask. Face coverings should be changed when moist and washed after use. Worn face coverings may be contaminated. Find more dos and don'ts of face coverings here.

Learn how to make a no-sew fabric mask in this video with Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams. Additional tips and instructions for making face coverings are available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

How do I correctly wear a face covering?

  • Wash your hands before putting on your face covering
  • Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin
  • Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face
  • Make sure you can breathe easily
  • Don’t put the face covering around your neck or up on your forehead
  • Don’t touch the face covering, and, if you do, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer to disinfect
man wearing face covering


How do I safely take off a face covering?

  • Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops
  • Handle only by the ear loops or ties
  • Fold outside corners together
  • Place covering in the washing machine (learn more about how to wash cloth face coverings)
  • Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing and wash hands immediately after removing