Landmark 1: Prioritizing the Health and Safety of Students, School Personnel, and Families

ED COVID-19 Handbook: Strategies for Safely Reopening Elementary and Secondary Schools

The Department of Education has issued guidance for school re-opening based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance issued August 17, 2021. The Handbook provides strategies for promoting vaccination, masking, physical distancing, transportation, and other safety considerations.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guidance

The CDC provides first-stop information for learning about the COVID-19 pandemic. This website summarizes CDC’s initiatives, activities, and tools in support of the Whole-of-Government response to COVID-19. The CDC has also released back to school tips for the 2021-2022 school year.

CDC Recommends Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccine for Children 5 to 11 Years old

In November 2021, the CDC recommended that children 5 to 11 years old be vaccinated against COVID-19 with the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine. This CDC now expands vaccine recommendations to about 28 million children in the United States in this age group and allows providers to begin vaccinating them as soon as possible. To support these efforts, the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education released a joint statement with three recommendations: host a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at your school, distribute Information about the COVID-19 vaccine to all families with children ages five through eleven, hold conversations with your school communities on the COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 Data Dashboard

In November 2021, the Department of Education, in collaboration with the CDC launched a new COVID-19 data dashboard to help the public keep track of the impact of COVID-19 on K-12 schools. The dashboard aggregates in one location data on pediatric COVID-19 cases, youth vaccination rates, and numbers on schools that are operating in-person, hybrid or remote. Data will be updated each week, and where possible, the information is presented geographically so that educators and families can understand the impact of COVID in their communities. This is the first time such data has been organized in a single location for the public.

Strategies for Supporting COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts

The National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments hosted a webinar on November 10, 2021 following the approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine for children aged 5-11 by the CDC. This webinar provides examples from the field on how communities and schools can support vaccine awareness and vaccination efforts.

Start-up Guide for Testing in Schools

To support the safe reopening of schools, the White House has released guidance on screening testing in schools. To support these efforts, the Rockefeller Foundation released a guide to help schools have COVID-19 testing at school to help detect cases early and keep schools open and functioning. This resource has guidance on how to find a testing provider, make a testing plan, and communicate with parents and students to promote buy-in.

Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools

The CDC updated guidelines and recommendations for school reopening. Key recommendations include: vaccinated students and staff are not required to wear masks, schools should maintain a distance of 3 feet between students as long as it is not prohibitive to learning, unvaccinated students and staff should continue to wear masks indoors, and layered prevention strategies should be used to protect the health of students, staff, and families.

Improving Ventilation in Schools, Colleges, and Universities to Prevent COVID-19

On July 23rd, 2021, the Department of Education provided resources to help schools improve ventilation systems to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The resource provides guidance on increasing outdoor airflow, maximizing HVAC ventilation, and improving air filtration. It also provides links to resources provided by the CDC and EPA on improving filtration. This resource extends guidance issued in February, 2021 for ventilation in schools and childcare programs.

Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in K-12 Schools

This CDC Science Brief provides an analysis of transmission data from schools that had various reopening plans in the fall of 2020. Data from these schools  have contributed to knowledge of the nature of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in schools and their surrounding communities. The brief includes scientific information on COVID-19 infection for children and adolescents, transmission in schools, in-person learning mitigation strategies, and guidance on how to safely conduct sports and extracurricular activities

COVID-19 Vaccines for Teachers, School Staff, and Childcare Workers webpage

The COVID-19 Vaccines for Teachers, School Staff, and Childcare Workers webpage provides school and childcare staff with the latest information about where and how to book an appointment for COVID-19 vaccinations.