K- 12 Education

Note: As of February 12, 2021,  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a new Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools to incorporate the best available evidence at this time. The indicators and thresholds in the operational strategy replace the former core indicators in the Indicators for Dynamic School Decision-Making. VDH is reviewing this new operational strategy and revisions to this page are forthcoming. Users can visit the CDC COVID Data Tracker-County View for county level data until this page is updated. Please see the CDC's updated K-12 mitigation toolkit for additional resources.

During the COVID-19 epidemic, school districts have needed to balance the potential risk of COVID-19 transmission and the educational needs of children K-12, who learn best in the classroom. VDH believes decisions on whether to teach children in-person or virtually are best made locally.  Local school administrators best know the needs of their community and their schools’ capacity to carry out virtual education or manage the additional space and equipment necessary for in-person classes.  To help school districts make these decisions, VDH and the Department of Education have updated Interim Guidance for K-12 School Reopening.  VDH recommends schools use the CDC Indicators for Dynamic School Decision-Making jointly with the Interim Guidance for K-12 School Reopening document to inform decisions about school operations with regard to COVID-19. 

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 COVID-19:  

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.