Office of the Youth Protection Coordinator

Operational Guidance for UW Youth Programs During COVID-19

Updated May 9, 2022

The following guidance aligns with University of Washington and Washington State Department of Health guidance specific to youth engagements. This guidance is intended to serve as the primary reference for both University operated and hosted (i.e., third party led) youth programs

Please note that guidance may change at any time so please check back for further updates.

The University requires any in-person youth engagements (i.e., activities, events or programs) to follow COVID-19 guidance for K-12 schools, child care, youth development and day camps outlined by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) in the Requirements and Guidance to Mitigate COVID-19 Transmission in K-12 Schools, Child Care, Early Learning, Youth Development and Day Camps

Note that some measures outlined below are required, and some may be recommended but shall not be required by individual programs. Read the entire set of required and recommended guidance fully before operating your program.

Fact Sheet for Families

This document is intended for parents, families and youth who are participating in your programming. If you wish to amend this document or include additional guidance specific to your youth program, please send a copy of your updated version to before publishing.

Fact Sheet for Families PDF | .docx

The Office of the Youth Protection Coordinator has created a training on these COVID protocols:

REQUIRED in youth settings

Please see the DOH guidance for details about these requirements. Where University-specific requirements exist in addition to those from DOH, they are noted below:

Employee COVID-19 vaccination

The UW still requires all UW personnel and students to be vaccinated. This also applies to volunteers, vendors, and contractors working on-site at UW facilities, though the mechanism of verifying vaccination status differs for these populations. See UW HR’s guidance for more information.

Exclusion of individuals with symptoms of COVID-19

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.

At-home isolation protocol & return planning

  • Programs may choose to follow exclusion protocols outlined by EH&S or that outlined by DOH. The major difference is that EH&S still differentiates exclusions based on vaccination status, while DOH guidance no longer makes such a distinction.
  • UW personnel must follow UW EH&S  protocols.

Isolation of COVID-19 cases within a facility

Youth programs must monitor for symptoms that arise during program time and take appropriate actions as outlined by DOH (p. 3) when this occurs.

Ensure access to diagnostic testing for COVID-19

Testing resources include:

Reporting cases and outbreaks

1. Report employee cases to the UW COVID-19 Response and Prevention Team at or (206) 616-3344.

2. Report youth participant cases to 

3. Communicate to staff and families. Do not disclose any personal identifiers. 

4. Report all instances to OYPC at or by calling (206) 616-5706.

Responding to clusters and outbreaks in consultation with EH&S and Public Health

Follow public health and EH&S guidance in all instances of COVID-19 clusters or outbreaks in your program community.

Register all activities with OYPC

  • UW led youth programs: Register your youth program event(s) in the Youth Program Registration System (YPRS) prior to its start date. As part of your registration in YPRS, you will be asked to certify that you will implement all required youth-specific COVID prevention protocols outlined in the DOH Guidance for Child Care and Youth Programs
  • Third Party led youth programs hosted by UW: The UW hosting entity must register the youth program and include COVID-19 requirements outlined above in third party facility use agreements.

REQUIRED for overnight youth programs

In addition to following the above requirements, overnight programs must require youth participants to undergo screening testing prior to participating. See WA DOH Interim SARS-CoV-2 Self-Testing Guidance for K12 Schools and Child Care Providers.

Testing resources include:

RECOMMENDED in youth settings

Note that some of these items can only be recommended but shall not be required by an individual program. Additional details are found in Section 2 of the DOH guidance document (bottom of p. 5-11).  

Vaccination of youth participants

Programs may recommend that participating youth should be up to date with vaccinations. Programs shall not require vaccination as a condition of participation, nor check vaccination records of participants. 

Mask use

  • The university recommends that masks remain in use by staff, parents and participants in indoor settings where the majority of participants are unvaccinated (e.g., child care).
  • Programs may encourage mask use by participants but must allow families to make individual choices about their mask use preferences (i.e., whether to wear one or not).
  • Programs shall not require that masks be used if a parent or guardian objects to using a mask.
  • In the event of case clusters or outbreaks programs should consult with health authorities (e.g. EH&S and public health) to determine any changes to current requirements.
  • Resources: 

Screening testing

Screening testing is strongly encouraged in indoor high contact sports, some indoor performing arts settings and certain other higher risk activities (see p. 13 of DOH guidance). If you believe your setting has higher risk for transmission, contact  OYPC or EH&S to inquire whether the use of screening testing is appropriate.

Testing resources:

Increased ventilation

Programs are encouraged to choose indoor locations with mechanical or natural ventilation, and take activities outdoors whenever possible.

When considering using portable air-conditioning units and fans, consult EH&S COVID-19 Ventilation FAQs. If the UW rooms you use appear to suffer from lack of ventilation (e.g., they become hot, stuffy or have stagnant air), contact your Facilities group for assistance.

Physical distancing

Handwashing and respiratory etiquette

Cleaning and disinfection

Frequently Asked Questions

Does this mean my program can’t require youth to wear masks?

Youth programs may not require youth participants to wear masks, except in certain circumstances (below). This aligns with the University of Washington’s masking policy, as well as county and state guidance

Youth programs may encourage participants to wear masks, especially with groups of unvaccinated children, e.g., children between age 2-4, when participants are in close contact with each other, or for those who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19  or who may live with individuals at increased risk.  However, programs must honor individual and family choices regarding mask wearing.

In the below circumstances (and only these circumstances), masks are required: 

  • during clusters or outbreaks of COVID-19 (will be advised to do so via the UW COVID-19 Response and Prevention Team and/or county public health department);
  • healthcare settings, including nurse’s offices;
  • individuals showing or reporting symptoms of COVID-19 while in the program environment must wear a mask while waiting to leave the program or facility; and
  • individuals returning from isolation following a positive case of COVID-19 must wear a mask on days 6-10 if they are not able to show evidence of a negative test after day 5.

What if a youth participant refuses to wear a mask?

The University must honor a youth’s choice to either wear a mask or not. Exceptions to this would include when the youth is in a setting that requires masking, e.g., a health facility or field trip location where masking is required, or if a youth is showing symptoms of COVID-19. In all of these cases the program may enforce the requirements with all staff and participants. Also, in a child care environment, it may be appropriate for a teacher to encourage mask use more proactively with young children, including with reminders to put them on, or adjust.

Does this mean my program can’t require youth to be vaccinated?

That is correct: youth programs may no longer require youth to be vaccinated in order to participate in programming. Programs should not collect information about youth participants’ vaccination status.

What if a site our program is visiting requires vaccination of participants?

You will need to communicate the expectations to your participants. Be clear that the requirement is one of the specific host facility, rather than a general UW requirement. Ideally the host facility will handle verification of vaccination so your program does not need to collect or view this sensitive personal health information. If you must verify vaccination status, contact EH&S to ensure you are doing this properly.

Can my program require proof of a negative COVID-19 test as an entrance/participation requirement?

Only in specific circumstances that pose a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission:

  • close contact indoor sports (e.g., basketball, wrestling, water polo, indoor cheer)
  • indoor performing arts settings, including theater/drama, choir, band, speech and debate
  • overnight programs or those including shared accommodations.

The Office of the Youth Protection Coordinator and EH&S can provide recommendations on frequency of testing in these situations.

Outside of these circumstances, programs should not impose a testing requirement for youth participants. 

What if a youth program off-campus site location requires proof of vaccination?

If a program requires youth to attend at an off-campus site for an activity that requires proof of vaccination, youth programs may pass along that requirement.

When collecting information from youth participants, it’s important to remember to not collect the information yourself and to use existing systems established at the intended location to collect vaccination information.

Additionally, programs must make it clear to parents and/or guardians why there will be a vaccine requirement and that there is a testing alternative to allow your youth to participate.

Summary of requirements and recommendations

Required in all UW youth settings 
  1. Employee COVID vaccination 
  2. Communication to parents/families, youth and staff the responsibility to screen for symptoms at home and remain at home should any symptoms arise. 
  3. Exclusion of individuals with symptoms of COVID-19
  4. At-home isolation protocol & return planning
  5. Monitoring of symptoms that arise during program time and isolate COVID-19 cases within a facility
  6. Notification to groups or individuals of potential exposure
  7. Education about access to diagnostic testing for COVID-19
  8. Reporting of cases and outbreaks to EH&S, Public Health and OYPC
  9. Response to clusters and outbreaks in consultation with your local health authority
  10. Registration of all activities with the Office of the Youth Protection Coordinator

Additionally required for overnight programs:

11. Requirement of youth participants to undergo screening testing prior to participating

Recommended and can be implemented at program level 
  1. Increased ventilation 
  2. Physical distancing 
  3. Handwashing and respiratory etiquette
  4. Increased cleaning and disinfection
  5. Masking in indoor child care settings
  6. Screening testing for high contact and indoor sports, indoor performing arts settings
Recommended for individuals but shall not be required by a program 
  1. Vaccination of eligible youth participants
    • Exceptions: venue-based decisions, large-scale one-time events as determined by EH&S
  2. Masks
    • Masks may be recommended but cannot be required by youth programs.
    • Youth programs must honor the individual choices of families about mask use preferences (i.e., whether to wear one or not)
    • Note: Masks may become required in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak, based on consultation with EH&S and/or a local health authority
  3. Screening testing
    • Note: screening testing is required in certain programs. See above.
  4. Handwashing and respiratory etiquette
  5. Increased cleaning and disinfection