Virginia’s Interim Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Prek-12 Schools (July 2021)
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In July 2021 Virginia updated its guidance for PreK-12 schools, now titled Interim Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Virginia PreK-12 Schools-This is a PDF document.. The update was made to incorporate changes made in the CDC’s most recent guidance for the 2021-2022 school year.
Key Elements of the Revised Interim Guidance
The Interim Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Virginia PreK-12 Schools reinforces the importance of in-person learning and supports divisions in making locally-informed decisions on masking and other prevention measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools.
These prevention measures are critical as schools keep students and staff safe as they return fully to in-person learning in the 2021-2022 school year. Pursuant to legislation passed in the 2021 General Assembly, all schools in Virginia are required to offer in-person instruction options during the 2021-2022 school year and temporary school closures should only be necessary in the context of controlling spread associated with increased impact to school such as increased cases or outbreaks.
Interim Guidance - Guiding Principles
- Students benefit from in-person learning. Safely returning to and maintaining in-person instruction during the 2021-22 school year is a priority.
- Put education first. Prioritize educational opportunities over athletics, extracurricular activities or other events in the school and surrounding community. Establish reasonably safe in-person educational environments and then consider including extracurriculars and athletics.
- Focus on prevention. Promote vaccination, as it is the leading prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic and can help schools safely return to and maintain in-person learning. Establish a school culture of adherence to prevention strategies both in and out of school. Establish environments in which vaccination is promoted, and people physically distance, wear masks correctly and consistently, practice hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, and clean frequently. Coordinate closely with local health departments. Educate students/staff to monitor health daily and stay at home if they have symptoms, and follow public health recommendations. Consider screening testing programs to identify cases early.
- Consider community needs. Consider disease and vaccination trends and also understand the socioeconomic factors, literacy barriers, and other educational needs in your community when developing plans.
- Be flexible and innovative. Scientific knowledge evolves rapidly, and local context is incredibly important. Community transmission and the level of impact to a given school can change and the combination of prevention strategies may evolve with time.
- VDH Pandemic Dashboard – Including Application of CDC Indicators to the Virginia Context
- Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools
- Other VDH K-12 Resources
- Other CDC Resources for Schools