Schools (K-12)

Encourage students and staff to take everyday preventive actions to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses. These actions include staying home when sick; appropriately covering coughs and sneezes; cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces; and washing hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if they are visibly dirty. Remember to supervise young children when they use hand sanitizer to prevent swallowing alcohol.

It is up to individual school divisions to consider how this will occur.  Schools will consider creating one-way hallways to reduce close contact and place physical guides, such as tape, on floors or sidewalks to create one-way routes. Where feasible, keep students in the classroom and rotate teachers instead. Guidance suggests staggering class periods by cohorts for movement between classrooms if students must move between classrooms to limit the number of students in the hallway when changing classrooms, and assign lockers by cohort or eliminate lockers altogether.  Please contact your local school division for more information regarding reopening of schools. Frequently asked questions are  available at  Virginia Department of Education FAQs.

Many parents, caregivers, and guardians face new and difficult choices about how their child will return to school in the fall, such as deciding between in-person and virtual learning. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has designed a tool to help parents, caregivers, and guardians weigh the risks and benefits for consideration in order to make this decision making process easier. It is organized to provide parents and caregivers with general information on COVID-19, and options to consider for virtual, in person and hybrid options, if offered. For many families, back to school planning will look different this year than it has in previous years. Your school will have new policies in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. You may also be starting the school year with virtual learning components. The CDC has developed checklists that are intended to help parents, guardians, and caregivers, plan and prepare for the upcoming school year.  Please discuss any concern you may have with your local school division.

A close contact who develops symptoms is considered to be a suspected case of COVID-19. The person moves from quarantine to isolation at that point. Isolation can end after 10 days from symptom onset, as long as the person is at least 24 hours fever-free and other symptoms have improved.

For more information, please see here.

VDH recommends that communities and school divisions use the CDC Indicators for Dynamic School Decision-Making framework together with VDH Guidance for Mitigation Measures in K-12 Settings (Pandemic Metrics dashboard) when considering actions related to school decision making.

To review  K-12 activities that are allowed and guidance for Phases II & III, please visit the Department of Education’s Recover, Redesign, Restart 2020 website.

Schools should avoid offering any self-serve food or drink options, such as hot and cold food bars, salad or condiment bars, and drink stations and serve individually plated or pre-packaged meals, while ensuring the safety of children with food allergies.

As feasible, schools should have students and staff eat meals in classrooms, while maintaining physical distancing as much as possible, instead of in a communal dining hall or cafeteria. If communal dining halls or cafeterias are used, schools should encourage physical distancing in food service lines and at tables while eating. Students and staff should wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol before and after eating. Schools should clean and disinfect food line areas, tables, and chairs between uses.  CDC guidance and CDC FAQsYour individual school will decide how school lunches will be provided to students.  VDOE has provided guidance to schools.  Please discuss any concern you may have with your local school division.

For more information, see DOE reopening FAQ (under School Nutrition)

Make sure that you provide the school with health care provider documentation (HCP) of the child’s food allergy and treatment protocols. This includes HCP authorization and parental consent to administer medication to students in the event of anaphylaxis or illness due to exposure. Meet with school staff, including teachers, school nurses and administrators, to discuss safety measures and establishing/updating a Section 504 plan.  Please discuss any concern you may have with your local school division.

The Virginia Department of Health is encouraging students and their families to prepare for the upcoming school year.  Many students will need updated immunizations, physicals for enrollment, medication administration, documentation for health conditions and emergency action plans for chronic conditions (asthma, allergy, diabetes and seizures). Please contact your health care provider to discuss your child’s medical needs for the upcoming school year.

Yes.  Please continue to focus on your child’s immunization  just as you would for in person learning.  Immunization requirements have not been waived for the 20-21 school year . The Superintendent’s memo 132-20 (5/29/20) regarding health requirements for enrollment is included for your review and below is the link: 

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/administrators/index.shtml

The Code of Virginia requires that children be adequately immunized (§ 22.1-271.2) before entering public kindergarten or elementary school. Other required immunizations include Human Papillomavirus (HPV) for girls entering sixth grade; and a Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (Tdap) booster for entry into seventh grade.

These requirements have NOT been waived and families are encouraged to make appointments with their pediatrician or primary care provider now to avoid the "back to school rush".

Children need to continue to get the recommended vaccines on schedule. Vaccines provide individual and community immunity, no matter where you are. The Virginia Department of Education is requiring all public school students to have required immunizations to be enrolled in school. Please continue to focus on your child’s immunization just as you would for in person learning.

Emphasis should be placed on cohorting students and limiting the size of groups participating in playground time. Outdoor transmission of virus is known to be much lower than indoor transmission. Masks should be used outdoors, when physical distancing may be difficult.

 

Drinking fountains should be cleaned and sanitized, but encourage staff and students to bring their own water to minimize use and touching of water fountains. For more information, click here.

The key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and decreasing risk to others is to practice physical distancing. When  school is out, children should consider socially distant ways to play with children from other households. To help children maintain social connections while physical distancing, help your children have supervised phone calls or video chats with their friends.  If children are playing outside their own homes, they should stay 6 feet from anyone who is not in their own household. Make sure children practice everyday preventive behaviors, such as washing their hands often with soap and water and wearing a mask, as developmentally appropriate.

Schools should anticipate and be prepared to address a wide range of mental health needs of children and staff when schools reopen. Preparation for infection control is vital and admittedly complex during an evolving pandemic. But the emotional impact of the pandemic, financial/employment concerns, social isolation, and growing concerns about systemic racial inequity — coupled with prolonged limited access to critical school-based mental health services and the support and assistance of school professionals — demands careful attention and planning as well. Schools should be prepared to adopt an approach for mental health support.

Watch for signs of stress in your child.  Some common changes to watch for include excessive worry or sadness, unhealthy eating or sleeping habits, and difficulty with attention and concentration. For more information, see the “For Parents” section on CDC’s website, Manage Anxiety and Stress. Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand. Go to CDC’s Helping Children Cope with Emergencies or Talking with Children About COVID-19 for more information. The Virginia Department of Education has resources for families: VDOE Support for Families and Social Emotional Learning Resources for Parents.