K- 12 Education

To guide decisions about community mitigation measures needed to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on Virginians, VDH recommends local government and school officials work with local health districts to evaluate epidemiologic and other data to assess the extent of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) transmission within their region, its effect on Virginians, and the ability of the healthcare system to function.  These data should then be interpreted within the context of the local jurisdiction.  VDH recommends that decisions to alter K-12 school programming, including decisions about in-person instruction, school dismissals or closures be handled at the most local level possible, considering both regional and local epidemiology, community characteristics, and local capacity.

VDH created a pandemic metrics dashboard, inclusive of a K-12 tab that includes the CDC Indicators for Dynamic School Decision-Making.  VDH has further aligned these metrics with the Phase Guidance for Virginia Schools to assist school officials to make decisions about K-12 school programming in the VDH Interim Guidance for Mitigation Measures in K-12 School Settings.

Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has developed comprehensive guidance to aid schools in planning for a return to in-person instruction and activities. “Recover, Redesign, Restart” is available at doe.virginia.gov.  More information about schools and COVID-19 can be found on the VDH FAQs webpage and the DOE FAQs webpage.

Parents play an important role in working with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to prevent COVID-19 from entering the school setting and help slow transmission of COVID-19 in our communities. Learn more about how to prepare and what to expect when working with VDH.  The resources below explain what contact tracing is, and how it applies to the school environment, and the difference between isolation and quarantine.  There are also several resources to help parents know when to keep a child home from school based on symptoms of COVID-19 or exposure to a person who has COVID-19.  Reach out to your pediatrician's office, your school nurse, or the local health department for help using these resources.

Learn how to talk with children about coronavirus disease 2019:  

It is important to have open and honest conversations with children about the role they play in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and the changes they may expect this school year.  Learn more about how to talk to children about COVID-19 here.

Considerations for decisions regarding the new school year:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided guidance documents to help families make decisions regarding sending their children back to school this year (more information here), and how to keep children safe and healthy while school is out (more information here).  Additionally, a checklist intended to help parents, guardians, and caregivers plan and prepare for the upcoming school year is available here.

For information about participation in recreational sports, visit VDH Considerations for Recreational Sports.

For more information about participation in performing arts, see the VDH Guidance for Performing Arts (9/18/20).

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C)

While children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults, VDH, CDC and other public health staff are investigating Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children (MIS-C) linked to COVID-19.  MIS-C may cause problems with a child’s heart and other systems in the body.  Signs and symptoms of MIS-C include fever, belly or gut pain, vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, rash, red or cracked lips, red or bumpy tongue, or swollen hands and feet.

If your child has any of these signs or other symptoms of COVID-19, contact your pediatrician.  If your child is showing any emergency warning signs including trouble breathing, pain or pressure in the chest that won’t go away, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, bluish lips or face, severe belly pain, or other concerning signs, seek emergency care right away.