Youth at UW

University Guidance for In-person Youth Programs

Updated 4/21/2021

The following COVID-19 prevention steps are developed to help maximize the health and safety of personnel and youth participants by reducing the potential for COVID-19 transmission. The required protocols below were developed in consultation with UW EH&S and reviewed by the Advisory Council on Communicable Disease (ACCD), and are in alignment with Washington State Department of Health guidance issued for youth programs. The same protocols are required regardless of vaccination status of your workforce or participant group.

Required Steps

In order to operate in-person, programs must:

  1. Qualify as an allowable activity.
    • In alignment with UW’s COVID-19 Recovery Status, third party or non-UW in-person events and gatherings may not occur on UW campuses during Phase 1 or Phase 2.
  2. Request and receive support from the unit head to operate in person.
  3. Notify the Office for Youth Programs Development and Support (OYPDS) of your intention to operate by registering your program in the Youth Program Registration System.  
  4. Complete BOTH 
    1. the COVID-19 Prevention Plan Addendum for Youth Programs (PDF|.docx – updated 4/9/21AND
    2. the EH&S COVID-19 Prevention Plan for the Workplace (PDF|.docx).

Both the plan and addendum must be reviewed by OYPDS. Note that OYPDS does not have authority to approve an activity.  Submit documents to allowing 10 business days for review. These documents must also be reviewed and approved by the unit head.

During operation, abide by the COVID-19 prevention plan and maintain ongoing communication with OYPDS to notify us of changes to your plans, or address questions or concerns. 

How to use this guidance

The following guidance assists with adherence to state, county and University protocols for youth programs. This guidance supports compliance with the requirements stated in the COVID-19 Prevention Plan Addendum for Youth Programs (PDF|.docx(“Addendum”) by outlining additional required safety procedures for youth populations.

Programs should review the following guidance and incorporate safety and prevention measures into youth programming, then document prevention protocols and safety precautions in their Addendum. 

This guidance and the Addendum should supplement, not replace, the guidance provided by EH&S. Youth programs must adhere to both sets of guidance and complete both the standard EH&S Prevention Plan and the Youth Programs addendum. 

This guidance references King County public health guidance and resources, since the majority of currently-registered UW youth programs operate in that county. If you are running a program in another county, please contact us at for county-specific resources.

Download the COVID-19 Prevention Plan Addendum for Youth Programs (.docx)

Download the COVID-19 Prevention Plan Addendum for THIRD PARTY Youth Programs (.docx)

Youth Program Management and Oversight

Programs must review the roles and responsibilities included in the University of Washington COVID-19 Prevention Plan for the Workplace [PDF] (“COVID-19 Prevention Plan”) document shared by EH&S (p 3-5). The following provides additional insight about these roles and responsibilities within a youth program.

The unit leader (reporting directly to the President or Provost) is responsible for overseeing the creation and implementation of COVID-19 Prevention Plans for all unit programs or sites, as well a unit-wide COVID-19 Safe Start checklist. 

The COVID-19 Site Supervisor is an individual identified by their unit leader (or their designee) to ensure adherence with a site-specific COVID-19 Prevention Plan. They may be different from an employee’s regular University supervisor and from the youth program director.

The youth program director is responsible for the daily operations of the youth program and should:

  • Notify their unit head and OYPDS of their intention to operate
  • Notify their unit head of all youth program personnel who should be included in the “eligible to return to work” list
  • Review unit-wide COVID-19 Prevention Plan and Safe Start Checklist with unit head and ensure youth program activities are reflected as appropriate.
  • Complete a program- or site-specific COVID-19 Prevention Plan. The COVID-19 Prevention Plan must be reviewed by OYPDS and approved by the unit head.
  • Request PPE, cleaning supplies and other necessary materials through UW’s central storefront or their unit head.
  • Notify building coordinators of activities.

Guidance Areas

Social and physical distancing

In addition to the guidelines included in the University Requirements for COVID-19 Prevention in the Workplace, youth programs must:

NOTE: UW requires 6 feet physical distancing for all non-child care activities.

  • Keep participant groups segregated at all times. Do not combine groups at any point in the day. 
    • Maintain consistent staff for participant groups. This may necessitate changes to your typical staffing procedures. Staff previously designated as “float” staff, for example, should now be assigned to cover a designated room or group.
    • Maintain physical distancing and other safety protocols at drop-off and pick-up. 
      • Notify parents of physical distancing and safety protocols ahead of time, and consider posting signs at your facility.
      • Stagger drop-off and pick up times so not all children are coming or going at the same time.
      • When possible, receive children at the door or at their vehicles to reduce parent/guardian traffic within the facility.
      • Maintain physical distance within any common areas where parents and children may need to congregate while waiting to pick up or drop off. Mark Xs or arrows on the floor to delineate distances or direct one-direction flow of traffic.
      • Ask families to designate one person to do drop-off and pick-up, when possible, and to avoid having those at higher risk for COVID-19 infection play this role.
      • Designate specific staff to check participants in or out to reduce multiple hands on the checklist or device. If parents perform check-in steps, ask them to use their own pen or sanitize pens or devices between users. 
      • Ask parents to submit any paperwork (such as health screening forms) or perform any identity checks (such as showing ID) such that staff don’t need to touch those materials. 
  • Maintain physical distancing within classrooms and other program spaces. 
  • Choose activities that encourage more physical space (ideally, 6 feet) between children, such as those shared in this PHSKC blog post.
  • Limit movement through multiple spaces by containing group activities to one or two spaces.
  • Minimize use of common areas (like outdoor play space) by more than one group at a time. When multiple groups are using a common area, maintain distance of >6 ft. between groups.
  • Minimize sharing of materials or equipment between children or between classrooms. 
  • Increase access to fresh air through ventilation systems, open windows, or increased outside time, as appropriate.
  • Increase space between cribs or sleeping mats, and consider placing napping children head to toe to increase distance. 
  • Avoid transporting youth. If you do transport youth, maintain strategies for physical distancing by spacing children within the vehicle, not mixing groups of youth in a vehicle, and cleaning and disinfecting the vehicle frequently. 

Precautions for sick personnel and participants

In addition to the guidelines included in the University Requirements for COVID-19 Prevention in the Workplace, youth programs must:

  • Collect relevant health information from families. For example, programs may wish to understand if a youth has a condition that puts them at higher risk for COVID-19 (CDC Resource).
  • Develop, distribute and collect a program-specific Acknowledgement of Risk form 
  • Instate health surveillance screening procedures for youth participants, parents and other visitors. 
    • Parents should complete and submit a health screening form every day on behalf of their youth participant. Parents and other visitors, such as third party contractors, should also submit a health screening form if entering the facility/program space. 
    • If any individual has a temperature equal to or greater than 100.4ºF or other symptoms linked with COVID-19 (CDC Resource), they should not attend work or participate in the program, should stay away from others, and seek medical advice.
    • Establish a procedure for distributing, collecting and retaining health screening forms from these populations.
    • Establish a procedure for those who do not complete the form or show up without having completed the temperature screening.
    • Communicate your health surveillance procedures to families.  
  • Develop a daily process for identifying and addressing any new COVID-19 symptoms from a staff member or child that become apparent while onsite. Include:
    • a process for identifying new symptoms throughout the day
    • a protocol for conducting a temperature check on any staff or participant who develops symptoms during the day 
    • a location where the sick person may be immediately isolated from the group and stay until exiting the facility. Sick persons age 5 and older should wear a mask or cloth face covering, unless doing so is not possible due to health conditions or safety concerns. Face coverings should NOT be used with those under age 2.
    • identification of who will supervise a sick child until they leave the facility, what safety precautions will be taken during that period, and how to safety transfer care of the child to the parent. Staff caring for ill persons should use appropriate medical grade PPE.
    • a process and timeline for communicating about covering a sick staff member’s responsibilities and shifts
    • a process to provide staff or families with information about when it is appropriate to discontinue home isolation (CDC Resource) and when they may return to the program
    • cleaning and sanitizing protocols to be undertaken after a sick person leaves the facility
  • Track illness, attendance and all COVID-related absences for participants.
  • Respond to confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.

Cleaning and disinfecting

In addition to the guidelines included in the University Requirements for COVID-19 Prevention in the Workplace, youth programs must:

Good hygiene

In addition to the guidelines included in the University Requirements for COVID-19 Prevention in the Workplace, youth programs must:

  • Establish and maintain hand hygiene stations throughout your facility.
    • Stations should be stocked with either soap/water/towels or alcohol-based hand sanitizer with a concentration of at least 60% alcohol. These should be available outdoors as well.
  • Use hand sanitizer only if handwashing is not available, e.g., during outside time, and if hands are not visibly dirty.
  • Supervise children when using alcohol-based hand sanitizer to prevent ingestion or eye contact. Do not use hand sanitizer with children under age 2. 
  • Solicit parental consent for using alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Build time for handwashing into your schedule for participants and staff. 
  • Follow EH&S’s Eating Space Guidelines for COVID-19 Prevention, as applicable. [Added 2/17/21]
  • Designate separate sinks for food preparation. Do not use these sinks for other purposes.
  • Designate specific staff to prepare and distribute food and drinks. These staff should not be involved in diapering/toileting. Staff must wash hands before and after handling food.
  • Serve participants individually and discourage food or utensil sharing. 
  • Consider using disposable utensils and plates if you cannot ensure adequate cleaning and sanitizing of those materials. 
  • Participants must wash hands before eating or drinking.
  • When possible, eat meals and snacks in the designated classroom assigned to the group, rather than using a communal area like a cafeteria. 

Personal protective equipment

In addition to the guidelines included in the University Requirements for COVID-19 Prevention in the Workplace, youth programs must:

  • Require staff members and children age 5 and older to wear cloth face coverings during program time when 6 feet social distancing cannot be achieved.
    • This applies to both indoor and outdoor activities.
    • Exceptions are granted for those with disabilities; who are deaf and rely on face and mouth movement to communicate; who been advised by a medical professional not to wear a face covering; who have trouble breathing; who are unconscious; and who cannot safely remove the face covering themselves.  [Updated 6/29/20]
  • Encourage, but do not require, children age 2-4 to wear a cloth face covering. 
  • Staff caring for ill persons should use appropriate medical grade PPE.

Communication and training

In addition to the guidelines included in the University Requirements for COVID-19 Prevention in the Workplace, youth programs must: