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Preventing Respiratory Viruses in K-12 Schools and Child Care Programs 

VDH is committed to the health and safety of students, teachers, and staff in K-12 schools and child care programs. Respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, influenza (the flu), and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), are a common source of illness in schools and child care programs. This page contains information on common respiratory viruses and resources for school and child care officials, parents and guardians, and the entire school and child care community.

General Respiratory Virus Information 

Everyone can take the following core prevention strategies to protect themselves and others from common respiratory viruses: 

  • Stay up to date with immunizations 
  • Practice good hygiene 
  • Take steps for cleaner air 
  • When you have a respiratory virus: 
    • Use precautions to prevent spread 
    • Seek health care promptly for testing and/or treatment if you have risk factors for severe illness; treatment may help lower the risk of severe illness 

Learn more here: CDC Respiratory Virus Guidance 

Preventing Spread of Illness 

Students, teachers, and staff who have symptoms of a respiratory virus can protect others by staying home when sick. Those who have been sick can return to school and child care when, for at least 24 hours, both of these are true: 

  • Their symptoms are getting better overall, AND 
  • They have not had a fever (and are not using a fever-reducing medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen) 

When people who were sick begin returning to their normal activities, it is important that they take added precautions for 5 more days to prevent spreading illness to others. These added precautions can include taking additional steps for cleaner air, hygiene, masks, physical distancing, and/or testing to inform your actions to prevent spread to others.  

Learn more here: CDC Preventing Spread of Respiratory Viruses When Sick 


It is important for students, teachers, staff and their families to stay up-to-date on the immunizations that are recommended for them; for example, getting a flu shot every year. This can help reduce the severity of the illness, reduce the risk of death, and can also help reduce the chances of getting sick.  

Learn more here: CDC Immunizations and Respiratory Viruses  


Testing is an additional strategy to help protect students, teachers, and staff. While testing is not always necessary, it can help identify if someone is infected with a specific virus so that they can make decisions about treatment and learn how to prevent the spread of the virus to others.   

Learn more here: CDC Testing and Respiratory Viruses  


Page last updated April 3, 2024

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