Cindy Clayton, Virginia Division of Well being

Charles Pyle, Virginia Division of Schooling

Virginia Departments of Well being and Schooling Launch Up to date Steerage for PreK-12 Colleges
PreK-12 faculties will make locally-informed selections on masking and prevention measures, as knowledgeable by CDC suggestions

RICHMOND — The Virginia Division of Well being and the Virginia Division of Schooling at the moment launched new steerage for PreK-12 faculties for the upcoming 2021-2022 faculty yr. The Interim Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Virginia PreK-12 Schools reinforces the significance of in-person studying and helps faculty divisions in making selections on masking and different prevention measures, as knowledgeable by native knowledge and steerage from the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.

“Virginia has adopted the science all through this pandemic, and that’s what we proceed to do,” mentioned Governor Ralph Northam. “This steerage takes into consideration suggestions from the Facilities for Illness Management and the American Academy of Pediatrics, and can present essential flexibility for college divisions whereas making certain a secure, wholesome, and world-class studying setting for Virginia’s college students. Once more, I strongly urge each eligible Virginian to get vaccinated. Getting your shot will defend you, your loved ones, and your neighborhood—and it’s the solely manner we are able to beat this pandemic as soon as and for all.”

The State Well being Commissioner’s Public Health Order is in impact till July 25, 2021 and won’t be prolonged, giving faculty divisions the flexibility to implement native masks insurance policies primarily based on neighborhood degree circumstances and public well being suggestions. As knowledgeable by current suggestions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Virginia steerage strongly recommends divisions undertake the next for the 2021-2022 faculty yr:

  • Elementary faculties ought to implement a requirement that college students, lecturers, and employees put on masks indoors, no matter vaccination standing, till vaccination is accessible for youngsters below 12 years outdated and there was ample time to permit for youngsters youthful than 12 years outdated to be absolutely vaccinated.
  • At a minimal, center and excessive faculties ought to implement a requirement that college students, lecturers and employees who are usually not absolutely vaccinated put on masks indoors. Whereas faculty divisions usually verify school-required immunization data of their college students, they need to seek the advice of with their counsel in figuring out if and how one can verify scholar and employees COVID-19 vaccinations.
  • All faculties might wish to think about common masking for particular causes as outlined in certain circumstances by the CDC.
  • All faculties must be ready to regulate native masks insurance policies as native public well being circumstances evolve all year long.

The CDC federal order requiring masks be worn on public transportation stays in impact, and applies to buses operated by Virginia public faculties.

“The science is evident that vaccinations and masks assist maintain our communities secure from COVID-19,” mentioned Secretary of Well being and Human Sources Daniel Carey, MD, MHCM. “As a result of dedication, experience, and shut partnership of the Virginia Division of Well being and the Virginia Division of Schooling, the Commonwealth’s youngsters and the people that assist them study might be protected by confirmed methods, with out a one-size-fits-all method.”

“Colleges occupy a particular place within the lifetime of our communities, and we have to do every part we are able to to maintain everybody in them secure. This steerage is aimed toward defending college students, educators, and employees whereas additionally offering localities with flexibility,” mentioned State Well being Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A. “We proceed to induce eligible Virginians to get vaccinated to guard themselves, their households and their communities.”

All faculties in Virginia are required to make in-person instruction out there to all college students within the 2021-2022 faculty yr, pursuant to Senate Bill 1303 which was handed throughout Virginia’s 2021 legislative session. In keeping with the up to date steerage, bodily distancing of no less than 3 toes must be maximized to the best extent attainable however faculties mustn’t scale back in-person studying to maintain a minimal distance requirement.

“We all know that college students study greatest at school buildings, and this steerage ensures that divisions have the flexibleness and assist they should present entry to in-person studying 5 days every week,” mentioned Secretary of Schooling Atif Qarni. “I’m grateful to the entire faculty directors, educators, and employees who’ve gone above and past to supply prime quality instruction and assist to college students throughout this difficult time.”

Prevention methods are only when layered collectively, and can proceed to be essential to forestall the unfold of COVID-19 in faculties. The steerage recommends that divisions work with native well being departments to implement mitigation methods primarily based on details about the degrees of neighborhood transmission, native vaccine protection, the prevalence of instances and outbreaks in faculties, and the usage of screening testing knowledge to detect instances in faculties.

Vaccination stays the main public well being prevention technique to finish the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccinating lecturers, employees, and eligible college students is a vital layer of prevention and safety for all.

“As faculties put together to welcome college students again for the 2021-2022 faculty yr, our precedence is safely offering in-person instruction in order that every youngster can study and thrive within the classroom,” mentioned Dr. James Lane, Superintendent of Public Instruction. “With this newest steerage and ample federal pandemic aid funds out there to high school divisions, our native faculty leaders are outfitted to implement acceptable mitigation methods and guarantee scholar and employees security throughout the faculties of their communities.”

In 2020, Governor Northam directed $492 million in federal Coronavirus Assist, Aid, and Financial Safety (CARES) Act funding to public faculties and PreK-12 state-level schooling initiatives. This yr, Virginia acquired roughly $939 million in ESSER II funds below the Coronavirus Response and Aid Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act of 2021. Ninety p.c of the funding was distributed to high school divisions in January, with the opposite 10 p.c put aside for focused state-level initiatives to handle the impression of the pandemic on college students and faculties. Moreover, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act Elementary and Secondary Faculty Emergency Aid (ESSER) III funds directly allocate $1.9 billion to school divisions, with a further state put aside of $211 million.

This spring, Governor Northam announced $62.7 million in Virginia LEARNS Schooling Restoration grants to assist faculty divisions increase and implement focused initiatives to assist Virginia college students as they proceed to get well from the impacts of the pandemic.

Interim Steerage for COVID-19 Prevention in Virginia PreK-12 Colleges is accessible here.

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