Washington Youth Academy and COVID-19
The Washington Youth Academy, in ongoing coordination with the Kitsap Public Health District, has been planning how to safely resume residential operations.
We have modified every aspect of residential Cadet life to diminish risk during the COVID pandemic. In accordance with CDC guidance and using the best practices from over 39 Youth ChalleNGe and Job ChalleNGe programs around the country, the Washington Youth Academy has prepared a safe and protected program for youth attending January 16.
Based on the principle of “Cadets first, staff always” and focusing plans on reducing the risk of staff or visitors introducing the virus to the cadets, modifications include:
- Providing and requiring COVID testing of Cadets at Intake Day – January 16.
- Providing and requiring COVID testing for all staff prior to January 16 and every six weeks thereafter.
- Reducing the number of Cadets invited to the program from 165 to 114 to facilitate social distancing in the platoon bays/dormitories.
- All staff and visitors undergo a standard COVID-19 health screening and temperature check when arriving and departing the facility.
- The Academy is training contact tracers in the event a staff member or Cadet develops symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19. All contact tracing is done in compliance with privacy regulations and facilitated through the Kitsap Public Health District and Washington State Department of Health.
- Eliminating Cadet home visits, Cadet/Mentor campus visits and off campus community service projects to isolate the residential Cadet population from exposure.
- Changing Staff access and movement flow across the facilities to reduce interaction and exposure to Cadets.
- All Staff and Cadets will utilize personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks.
- Cadets will not wear masks during physical training, meals, sleep, and personal hygiene.
- Staff currently working on campus wear masks, adhere to social distancing, regularly clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and perform frequent hand washing. This practice will continue when Cadets return to campus.
- Scheduling medication distribution to ensure social distancing between Cadets.
- Cadets will have physical barriers where social distancing is not feasible such as distribution of medications.
- Cadets will have extended distancing during physical training
- Adjusting meal schedule to reduce occupation numbers and facilitate social distancing.
- Staggering meal schedule to facilitate cleaning and disinfecting between occupations.
- Establishing separate isolation and quarantine facilities in the event Cadets develop symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.
- Training and requiring all Cadets and staff to self-monitor for and report all symptoms related to COVID-19.
- Increasing the number of handwashing and hand-sanitizing stations throughout the campus.
- Increasing cleaning protocols in accordance with State, OSPI and CDC guidelines.
- Configuring classroom and learning spaces for social distance.
- Providing every Cadet a laptop to facilitate virtual learning if isolated or quarantined.
These policies and procedures are supported by local, state and federal guidelines and may be modified throughout the school year based on new information or modified guidelines.
WYA is known across the country as a leading Youth ChalleNGe program with a reputation for innovation and continuous improvement.
WYA has successfully managed Cadet health, developing, training, and implementing as required contagious disease and pandemic protocols over its 11 year history and is well prepared for these unprecedented times.