School Metrics

Keeping schools safely open for in-person instruction is a priority of the Commonwealth. The Virginia Department of Health is reviewing CDC’s Guidance for Implementing COVID-19 Prevention Strategies in the Context of Varying Community Transmission Levels and Vaccination Coverage (July 30, 2021) and updated Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People (July 27, 2021), including recent updates to masking recommendations for schools. At this time, VDH recommends schools use the Interim Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Virginia PreK-12 Schools to inform decisions about appropriate layered prevention strategies needed for K-12 school settings.

Levels of Community Transmission:

When determining prevention strategies necessary for a school, understanding the level of disease transmission in the community is a critical first step. 

To determine the level of community transmission, CDC and VDH recommend the use of two measures: total number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 persons in the past 7 days and the percentage of nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) including RT-PCR COVID-19 tests that are positive during the last 7 days. If the two indicators have different levels, actions corresponding to the higher threshold should be chosen. The transmission level for any given location will change over time and should be reassessed weekly for situational awareness and to continuously inform planning. VDH is working on updates to this page to provide levels of community transmission by county/city. In the meantime, please check CDC’s map to find the level of community transmission.

School administrators, working with local public health officials, should also review the level of impact within a school, local vaccination coverage, and other factors to help inform decisions. See Interim Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Virginia PreK-12 Schools for additional information. 

Key mitigation strategies schools should implement are:  

  • Promoting vaccination
  • Consistent and correct use of masks 
  • Physical distancing
  • Screening testing
  • Ventilation
  • Handwashing and respiratory etiquette
  • Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities 
  • Staying home when sick and getting tested
  • Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine