Pierce County schools closed for 6 weeks.
On March 12, Gov. Inslee announced Pierce County schools will close no later than March 17 for 6 weeks to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Make sure staff and families know where to find accurate information.
Helpful tools for childcare.
- Daily checklist for childcare facilities.
- COVID-19 Guidance for Child Care Facilities.
- Practice safe habits poster.
- Childcare resources and information—DOH
- Childcare during the coronavirus outbreak—DOH
- CDC’s infographic about how people of all ages can stop the spread of germs.
Helpful tools for schools.
- Guidance for school food programs.
- Safe practices and social distancing at emergency feeding locations.
- Frequently asked questions for colleges and universities.
Helpful tools for parents and families.
Model and encourage healthy habits.
We can all take these steps to safeguard our health.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water and for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.
- Stay at home and away from others if you are sick.
- Get your flu shot if you haven’t yet. Flu activity in the county is still elevated.
Help reduce anxiety about COVID-19.
Teach children how they can protect themselves against illness. Evidence suggests COVID-19 is generally mild in children. Those at risk for severe illness are over age 60, have health conditions or are pregnant.
- Mary Bridge Children's—Helping Children Cope.
- Kids Health—How to talk to talk to your child about COVID-19.
- National Public Radio's comic strip Just for Kids: A Comic Exploring the New Coronavirus.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s guide to help youth cope with traumatic events.
Help reduce stigma.
Worry and misunderstanding can create fear and mistrust. Disease can affect anyone. Use these resources to help reduce COVID-19 stigma.
- Department of Health—Stigma reduction.
- CDC—Stigma related to COVID-19.
- Department of Health—It takes all of us to reduce stigma during disease outbreaks.
- King County—Anti-stigma resources.
Review and update your emergency operations plan.
Update your plan to include information about COVID-19. You don’t need to start from scratch—you can update your plan from 2009's H1N1 pandemic.
These tools can help shape your plan.
- CDC—Interim guidance for schools.
- FEMA—Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations.
- CDC—Colleges and Universities Pandemic Influenza Checklist.
- CDC—Interim Guidance for Administrators of U.S. Institutions of Higher Education.
- OSPI—COVID-19 Guidance, Resources and School Closures
Include this information:
- Contact information for Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.
- Options for virtual learning or a plan to make up days.
- Process for sharing information with students and families.
Are childcare centers required to close since schools are closed?
We don't recommend childcare centers and in-home centers close. We recommend social distancing and other strategies outlined in CDC community mitigation guidance.
Are childcare options being provided during schools closures?
School districts should provide childcare at no cost to families in the medical field and first responders. Contact your school district if you need childcare.
My child's school district closed. Where do I find childcare?
Child Care Aware of Washington operates a database of all licensed child care providers in the state of Washington.
If your childcare facility closes due to COVID-19 concerns, call Childcare Aware Family Center at 1(800) 446-1114. Their team can help you search for alternative childcare.
What should my childcare do to prevent spread of illness?
Employees should ensure they are fever and symptom free before they leave home and report to work.
Conduct daily health checks of children when they arrive.
- Look for signs of illness and ask parents about the child’s health.
- Take their temperature.
- If they are coughing or have other significant respiratory symptoms, they should go home immediately.
Follow strategies for schools and childcare as outlined in the CDC mitigation guidance.
What are quarantine and isolation?
Quarantine is the separation of a person possibly exposed to a disease but not yet sick to prevent the potential spread of disease to others.
Isolation is used to separate a currently ill person who can spread the disease to others.
Are gatherings (childcare or elsewhere) safe for children with preexisting health conditions?
Currently all gatherings are banned under Governor Inslee's Stay home, stay safe order.
Children at high risk for severe complications from COVID-19—like a compromised immune system or respiratory conditions like severe asthma—should stay home. When in doubt, consult the child’s doctor for guidance.
Where can I find more information about school closures?Learn more about school closures.
Do custodial staff need to continue cleaning and disinfecting schools now that they are closed?No. Schools should clean during this 6 week closure like they would for an extended spring break. Staff doesn't need to clean and disinfect an empty building. Schools should save cleaning supplies for when they are needed.
How should I clean and disinfect my school?
Public and private schools in Washington state are closed March 17 through April 24. During normal business operation Washington State Department of Health recommends routine cleaning to slow the spread of respiratory illnesses.
Schools should follow standard cleaning procedures using third party certified “green” cleaners and disinfect with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered disinfectant with a claim for human coronaviruses.
Custodial staff are responsible for school disinfection. Staff should be trained to use disinfectants in a safe and effective manner and to clean up potentially infectious materials and body fluid spills. Custodial staff or the school nurse should be contacted if students are ill and your classroom needs cleaning and disinfection.
Custodial staff should sanitize daily surfaces and objects that are touched often, such as bathrooms, water coolers, desks, countertops, doorknobs, computer keyboards, hands‐on learning items, faucet handles, phones and toys.
Use Washington State DOH cleaning and sanitizing guidelines:
- Clean the surface first to remove all organic matter.
- Follow the disinfectant manufacturer’s instructions for use including:
- Use the proper concentration of disinfectant.
- Allow required wet contact time.
- Pay close attention to hazard warnings and instructions.
- Use personal protective items such as gloves and eye protection.
- Use disinfectants in a well-ventilated space
Schools and districts must have a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for each chemical used in the school.
Should custodians wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when they clean and sanitize?If custodians must continue work at schools, they should follow their school’s PPE policies when they clean and sanitize.
Can I use hand sanitizer to protect against COVID-19?Handwashing is the preferred method to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water aren’t available .
Do staff and volunteers at school-based childcare sites need Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like gloves, masks, gowns, or goggles?
We don’t recommend PPE in community settings like childcare facilities and schools with healthy children and adults. We do recommend gloves for staff who take children’s temperatures before entering the building. See daily checklist for childcare facilities on how to screen children at entry.
If a student is sick with fever and respiratory symptoms at a school-based childcare:
- Place a facemask on the student and move them to different room.
- A staff person should wait with the student. They should also wear a facemask.
- Call the student’s parent or guardian for immediate pick-up.
- Clean all frequently touched surfaces.If the student doesn’t receive a COVID-19 test, they can return 72 hours after they are fever free.
The Health Department will work with you if there is a positive case of COVID-19 at your school-based childcare.
How do I achieve social distancing at my child care facility?
Groups shouldn't include more than 10 people. Keep 6 feet of distance between people.
- Remove large group activities.
- Limit the number of children in each program space.
- Increase distance during table work.
- Plan activities that don't require close physical contact between multiple children.
- Limit item sharing. If children share items, remind them to not touch their face and to wash their hands.
- Limit use of water/sensory tables. Wash hands immediately after use.
- Minimize time standing in lines.
- Incorporate extra time outside. Open windows frequently.
- Adjust the HVAC system to allow for more fresh air.
- Avoid gathering in larger groups. For outside time and lunch, gather in small groups or 10 or less.
How do I clean toys at my child care facility?Clean toys and equipment more often. Clean with soap and water, then disinfect with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved disinfectant registered for use against the novel coronavirus. If toys aren't easy to clean (like stuffed animals, bean bag chairs, pillows, etc.), remove them temporarily. Some items can't be cleaned or sanitized (like play dough or slime). Stop using these items temporarily.
How do I disinfect keyboards and other electronic devices that can't be sprayed?Use alcohol wipes to wipe down keyboards or other devices.
How long should students who have fever and respiratory symptoms stay home?
Students and staff ill with fever and respiratory can follow this guidance from the Washington State Department of Health if they have not been around anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID19. They should stay home until 72 hours after the fever is gone and symptoms get better.
If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, they should remain under home isolation precautions for 7 days or until 72 hours after fever is gone and symptoms get better, whichever is longer. People with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should follow this guidance.
How should we clean school buses?Clean bus seats and commonly touched surfaces (handles, handrails, etc.) in between routes with an EPA approved disinfectant. If possible, open windows for increased ventilation.
I don’t have a primary care provider. Where can I find one?Check out our free or low-cost health resources to help you thrive. Only use the emergency department for emergency medical care.
If our childcare facility decides to close, how long should we remain closed?Consider first why you would need to close. Currently we don't recommend that childcare centers close in Pierce County to support social distancing. Base decisions regarding closure on the circumstances at your facility. For example, if someone is sick with confirmed COVID 19, close contacts should stay home for 14 days after their contact. Depending how many people this involves, this may influence your decision for how long to close. Most individuals infected with COVID-19 begin to develop symptoms within 14 days. Anyone with symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.
Is it safe to bring my kids to the park?
Many parks are currently closed. We encourage you to enjoy the outdoors and playtime. If you visit a park, avoid playground equipment and other surfaces people touch often. Bring other games like balls and frisbees to play with. Practice social distancing. Keep at least 6 feet between people. Wash your hands often. If you don't have access to a sink, use hand sanitizer.
What can I do to minimize the potential for germ spread in a childcare environment?
Follow these step to reduce the of spread germs:
- Remove toys that aren't easy to clean like stuffed animals and pillows.
- Rotate toys out. Clean and sanitize between rotations.
- Provide space between children during play time and other gatherings.
- Stagger time in playrooms and playground to reduce the number of children in one space.
- Upon entry each day, take the child's temperature and check for symptoms. If you can't take their temperature, ask the caregiver to take the child's temperature and check for symptoms at home before they arrive. Then ask them to complete and sign a form reporting this information.
- Remind families to stay home if they are unwell or have:
- A fever above 100.4°F.
- Shortness of breath.
- Develop activities that encourage individual play like as reading, puzzles and coloring.
- If you do family-style meals, have one staff member handle utensils and divide food.
What is the recommended group size for child care facilities?Group sizes should be reduced to no more than 10 people total, including children and adults. If it's not possible to separate groups by rooms, create a physical barrier (e.g. tables, cones, etc.) between groups that provides at least 6 feet of separation.
What questions should I ask during a health screening at my child care facility?
Every day when children arrive, take their temperature and ask if they have:
- Fever or chills.
- A persistent cough.
- Shortness of breath.
- Been in close contact with someone who was tested positive for COVID-19.
If the temperature is below 100.4º F and all answers are no, the child can attend child care.
If the temperature is 100.4º F or higher or any question is answered yes, the child should not be allowed to attend. They should remain at home. If symptoms worsen, the health care provider should be contacted.
If forehead or disposable thermometers aren't available, ask the caregiver to complete and sign a form that affirms they don't have a fever or reports the child’s temperature as taken at home.
What safety precautions should we take at school meal distribution sites?Read our recommendations for Safe Practices and Social Distancing at Emergency Feeding Locations.
What should child care providers do if they are at higher risk of serious illness?
People at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19 include:
- People with weakened immune systems from medical conditions or medical treatment.
- Adults over age 60.
- Pregnant women.
People with the above conditions shouldn't provide child care or visit child care facilities.
Small childcare centers or in-home providers should consider closing if the owner/operator is at high risk for serious illness and can't be excluded to remain operational.
Where can I find resources for teaching children proper handwashing?Visit our handwashing webpage to print fun activities and posters.
Turn to your local school district for updates on closures
- Tacoma Public Schools
- Fife Public Schools
- Puyallup School District
- Peninsula School District
- Sumner-Bonney Lake School District
- Bethel School District
- Carbonado School District
- Clover Park School District
- Dieringer School District
- Eatonville School District
- Franklin Pierce School District
- Orting School District
- Steilacoom Historical School District
- University Place School District
- White River School District