Youth at UW

Operational Guidance for UW Youth Programs During COVID-19

Updated January 3, 2022

The following guidance aligns with University of Washington and Washington State Department of Health guidance specific to youth engagements. This guidance has been reviewed and approved by the UW Office of the President.

This guidance is intended to serve as the primary reference for University operated or hosted youth programs. Any exceptions are noted below.

Operational Guidance for UW Youth Programs

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The University requires any in-person youth engagements (i.e., activities, events or programs) to follow COVID-19 prevention guidance for child care, youth development and day camps outlined by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) in the Guidance for Child Care, Youth Development, After-school programs, and Day Camps During COVID-19

Programs are responsible for adhering to the entirety of the DOH guidance. Note that some requirements differ from general University guidance. The following are notable youth-specific guidelines to assist with your planning: 

  • Youth programs must maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between participants. Some circumstances call for greater distance, up to 6 feet (see below).
  • Youth programs must divide their overall population of attendees into groups/pods of no more than 30 youth. Smaller groups/pods are encouraged. Groups/pods allow for easier contact tracing and minimize transmission between large numbers of people: the smaller the group/pod, the fewer people are likely to be exposed to any positive cases. 
    • Group/pod members must be separated by at least 3 feet of physical distance from each other.
    • Multiple concurrent groups of up to 30 youth are allowed, provided each group can maintain 3 feet distance between group members and 6 feet distance between the next group, and adequate supervision is available. 
    • The overall number of youth and number of groups allowed to participate in an event/activity is dictated by the capacity of the space with physical distancing in place. 
  • Avoid activities that involve eating when possible. If the event/activity will involve eating:
    • Provide facilities for hand-washing (or, at a minimum, hand sanitizing) before and after the meal.
    • Participants must be at least 6 feet from each other while eating or unmasked.
    • Eat outside or in well-ventilated spaces.
    • Spaces used for eating should not be immediately used for programming. A period of at least 30 minutes should follow eating times to allow for air circulation turnover. 
    • Boxed food or other self-service options should be used. Avoid buffet style.
  • Youth programs must convey to parents/families, youth and staff the responsibility to screen for symptoms at home and remain at home should any symptoms arise. Youth programs must also monitor for symptoms that arise during program time and take appropriate actions when this occurs (see page 13 of the DOH guidance). 
  • Youth programs should incorporate regular hand-washing or sanitizing into their program, as well as periodic cleaning of high-touch surfaces.
  • Register your youth program event(s) in the Youth Program Registration System (YPRS) prior to its start date.
  • In the event of positive cases involving an employee, volunteer or current participant, follow these steps: 

(1) the UW EH&S Employee Health Center at or (206) 685-1026 AND 

(2) the relevant county public health authorities: 

    • Communicate to staff and families. Do not disclose any personal identifiers. 
    • Report all instances to OYPC at or by calling (206) 616-5706.

In addition to the above, please thoroughly read and abide by DOH’s Guidance for Child Care, Youth Development, After-school programs, and Day Camps During COVID-19

COVID-19 Prevention Resources for In-Person Engagements

The following sections provide supplemental resources to assist your preparation and implementation of the required COVID-19 prevention protocols set forth by WA state Department of Health

Cleaning and disinfecting

Supplemental resources

Personal protective equipment

Supplemental resources

Guidance for virtual youth programs

All UW youth programs must comply with University guidance on safe virtual interactions.