COVID-19 & Virginia Public Schools
Governor Northam Orders All Virginia Schools to Close for the Remainder of the Academic Year
On Monday March 23, Governor Ralph Northam extended his order that all public and private K-12 schools in Virginia close in response to the continued spread of COVID-19 for the remainder of the school year. This builds on the Governor’s previous school closure order and previously issued guidance asking child care providers to prioritize services for children of essential personnel, while asking all families to keep their children home if they can. Read Governor Northam's March 23, 2020, news release for more information.
Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) works closely with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and other state and federal authorities to provide the latest information and guidance on COVID-19 to the commonwealth’s public schools.
This Web page provides division and building-level administrators, school health coordinators and educators with ready access to up-to-date resources and information about COVID-19 and the steps schools should take to safeguard the health of students and staff.
Virginia public schools, in turn, communicate information to staff, students and parents. School divisions are directed to routinely review their Pandemic Influenza Plans and ensure that communication channels are in place among educators, local health department officials and community leaders.
Frequently Asked Questions
The VDOE continues to evaluate options to provide flexibility in meeting the requirements and mandates associated with testing and accountability, instructional days/hours, attendance and graduation. While current specific information can be found below, the VDOE will continue to update the field as additional flexibility is clarified and additional details are received from the U. S. Department of Education.
COVID-19: A Parent Guide for School-Age Children
- COVID-19: A Parent Guide for School-Age Children – The VDOE has created this guide to serve as a resource for parents, families and caregivers on a variety of topics related to COVID-19 and their students.
Joint Guidance for Emergency Child Care during Statewide School Closure
The Department of Social Services (VDSS) and the VDOE are working closely together in this effort to support critical members of the workforce and provide safe child care alternatives for their families.
- Joint Guidance for Emergency Child Care during Statewide School Closure-This is a Word document. – This document outlines a variety of options and waivers which different public and private entities and communities should consider in order to provide safe child care alternatives for essential personnel while maintaining stringent health protocols to minimize the risk of additional COVID-19 spread.
To reduce spread of misinformation and rumors about COVID-19, schools are encouraged to use reliable information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to share with your school community.
Superintendent's & Principals' Memoranda
- UPDATE: Guidance on Graduation Requirements, Awarding of Credits, and Continuity of Learning-This is a Word document. – Superintendent's Memo 082-20
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Public Notice, Waivers, and Special COVID-19 Internet and Mobile Carrier Offerings-This is a Word document. – Superintendent's Memo 079-20
- Guidance on Graduation Requirements, Awarding of Credits, and
Continuity of Learning-This is a Word document. – Superintendent's Memo 077-20
- MEMO 077-20 Attachment A: Graduation Requirements, Awarding of Credits, and Continuity of Learning-This is a Word document. – This attachment has been updated as of March 27, 2020: Refer to Superintendent's Memo 082-20 Attachment A-This is a Word document.
- Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities-This is a Word document. – Superintendent's Memo 076-20
- COVID-19: A Parent Guide for School-Aged Children-This is a Word document. – Superintendent's Memo 075-20
- Updates Related to COVID-19 Following the Governor’s Order to Close Schools for a Minimum of Two Weeks-This is a Word document – Superintendent's Memo 071-20
- Additional Resources Following First Cases of COVID-19 in Virginia-This is a Word document. – Superintendent's Memo 063-20
- Transmitting School Absentee Data to the Virginia Department of Health for the Purpose of Public Health Surveillance-This is a Word document. – Superintendent's Memo 062-20
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Resources-This is a Word document. – Principals Memo 1006-20, March 3, 2020
- Addressing Misinformation Related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19)-This is a Word document. – Superintendent's Memo 051-20
- Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCOV)-This is a Word document. – Superintendent's Memo 032-20, February 7, 2020
- State Superintendent Provides Flexibility for Class of 2020 and Other Students-This is a Word document. – VDOE News Release, March 24, 2020
- Governor Northam Orders Statewide Closure of Certain Non-Essential Businesses, K-12 Schools – Governor's News Release, March 23, 2020
- VDOE Preparing Application for Statewide Testing Waiver-This is a Word document. – VDOE News Release, March 20, 2020
- State Superintendent Explores Assessment and Accreditation Flexibility for Virginia Schools; Requests US Department of Education to Consider Statewide Testing Waivers-This is a Word document. – VDOE News Release, March 17, 2020
- Governor Northam Orders All Virginia K-12 Schools Closed for Minimum of Two Weeks – Governor's News Release, March 13, 2020
Approved Meal Service Sites
- List of Approved Meal Service Sites as of March 27, 2020-This is an excel spreadsheet. - This list is subject to change. Please confirm meal service with your local school division.
Call 2-1-1 for more information regarding meal service in your area.
Refer to Summer Food Service Program (SFSP): Waiver Requests for the latest Public Notices regarding Non-Congregate Feeding During Unanticipated School Closures Due to COVID-19.
Communication from the Office of School Nutrition
The VDOE has provided the following memos regarding COVID-19 and meal options for feeding students:
- Superintendent's Memo 082-30, Revised Deadlines for ISP and CEP Reporting-This is a Word document.
- SNP Memo No. 2019-2020-33, Coronavirus (COVID-19): FAQs and Best Practices-This is a Word document.
- SNP Memo No. 2019-2020-33 Attachment A, Frequently Asked Questions: COVID-19-This is a Word document.
- SNP Memo No. 2019-2020-33 Attachment B, Best Practices for Meal Service during Unanticipated School Closures-This is a Word document.
- Superintendent's Memo 070-20, COVID-19: School Nutrition Program and Meal Options-This is a Word document
- MEMO 070-20 Attachment A: Waiver for Sponsors to Provide Meals in Non-Congregate Settings-This is a Word document.
- SNP Memo 2019-2020-32, Coronavirus (COVID-19): Meal Options for Feeding Students-This is a Word document.
Health Promotion Strategies
Schools can implement proactive health strategies to reduce disease transitions within the school setting. These include good hygiene practices such as
- handwashing, management of cold symptoms, proper rest, and nutrition;
- enhanced facilities monitoring (bathrooms, buses, cafeteria, and media/library centers);
- sanitizing classroom toys, frequently used classroom equipment/manipulatives; and
- monitoring school absences and communication with parents regarding the local policy for students who are ill and/or returning to school.
Center for Disease Control, Information for Schools: Plan and Prepare
- CDC, Interim Guidance for School Settings – The guidance is based on what is currently known about the transmission and severity of coronavirus disease.
- CDC, Interim Guidance for Administrators of US Childcare Programs and K-12 Schools to Plan, Prepare, and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)–
- Revisions made 3/12/2020 to reflect the clarification of mitigation strategies based on level of community transmission of COVID-19 and presence of COVID-19 cases within the school.
- CDC, Get Your Schools Ready for Pandemic Flu (2017) – Schools can use this guide to develop a new contingency plan or modify an existing emergency operations plan that reflects considerations specific to each educational setting.
- CDC, Pre-School and Childcare Center Checklist-This is a PDF document. – This Checklist will serve as a tool to assist school administrators to plan and prepare for Pandemic Flu in the preschool or childcare settings.
- CDC, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary: Cases in the U.S . – This site updated each day reflects the current number of positively diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the United States
- CDC, Recommended Cleaning Products and Processes – The CDC has provided Interim recommendations for clang homes with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19.
- CDC, Information for Travel – This site provides information for all methods of International travel and travel within the continental United States. Click on the World map, COVID-19 Risk Assessment by country to identify parameters for re-entry into the country.
State and Local Resources to Aid Schools in Planning and Preparing
- VDH COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions-This is a PDF document. – This document addresses general concerns about COVID-19 and addresses Virginia specific questions. It provides updated guidance for healthcare providers, business, schools and long term care facilities; address isolation, social distancing and movement restrictions, disease prevention and treatment; care for immune-compromised populations, those with chronic disease or pregnancy; and provides additional resources for the community.
- VDH Guidance for K-12 Schools-This is a PDF document. – Guidance for Educational Administrators on the COVID-19 Outbreak (updated 2/27/20)
- VDH Surveillance & Investigation: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) – VDH website contains information and resources about COVID-19 for schools, individuals and families, businesses, health care professionals, travelers and mass gatherings.
- VDH Fact Sheet – This Fact sheet provides general information about origin and transmission of COVID-19, symptoms, diagnosis and prevention strategies.
- VDH Local Health Districts – This resource provides a map, location and contact information for helath departments across the Commonwealth.
- VDOE Model Policy to Address Bullying in Virginia's Public Schools – This is available to assist school’s response in addressing potential hostilities.
- #GoOpenVA: Quick Guide to Open Educational Resources (OER)-This is a PDF document.
- #GoOpenVA: COVID-19 Extended Closing Resources – Resources provided by Virginia school divisions to support educational activities when schools are closed.
For Parents, Families and Caregivers
- Child Care for Essential Personnel – Parents and families who are in search of child care for essential personnel, which is currently permitted under the Governor’s current order, can find more information on the Child Care Aware website. Families can also call 866-KIDS-TLC (866-543-7852).
- School Meal Finder – Parents and families can find sites approved for meal service on the School Meal Finder website.
- Talking to Children about COVID-19 – Advice for families on how to help children understand COVID-19 and deal with associated anxiety, developed by the National Association of School Psychologists and National Association of School Nurses. Available in both English and Spanish.
- Talking to Young Children about COVID-19 – Advice for families on how to help toddlers and preschoolers understand COVID-19 and deal with associated anxiety, developed by Zero to Three.
- NAESP Talking With Kids About Covid-19 Graphics Twitter/Facebook and Instagram – Tips when talking to children about COVID-19 and ways they can avoid getting and spreading the disease.
- CASEL Resources for Parents and Families – Social Emotional Learning (SEL) offers a powerful means to explore and express our emotions, build relationships, and support each other. CASEL provides resources to attend to the social and emotional needs that arise during stressful times like these. This site also provides school resources for K-12 lessons at home.
- SAMHSA Tips for Talking to Children during Infectious Disease Outbreaks – This fact sheet provides parents, caregivers, and teachers with strategies for helping children manage their stress during an infectious disease outbreak. It describes potential reactions among youth and the support adults can provide to help them.
- CDC Tips for Parents While School’s Out – CDC’s COVID-19 guidance for schools and childcare programs now includes Tips for Parents While School’s Out.
- CDC Strategies for Coping with Stress and Anxiety – Fear and anxiety about COVID-19 can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. This resource provides parents with strategies to support their own stress as well as their child’s.
- AAP HealthyChildren.org – The American Academy of Pediatrics parenting site offers information for families on COVID-19 and related resources.
- AFT Learning at Home Resources – The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Share My Lesson website offers a repository of learning-at-home resources for teachers and parents, including mental health and social emotional learning resources.
- The Child Mind Institute: Supporting Families During COVID-19 – Parents may struggle to balance work, child care and self-care while keeping worries — both your children’s and your own — under control. This site offers resources to help children, teenagers, and parents cope with the increased stress of being at home and managing anxiety.
- Resources for Supporting Children's Emotional Well-being during the Covid-19 Pandemic – Child Trends provides recommendations for supporting children during this time, who may be at higher risk for the emotional impact of the pandemic.
- Federation of Virginia Food Banks – Provides information about COVID-19 food banks response as well as links to regional food banks and resources in Virginia. Families can also text “food” or “comida” to 877-877 to find out more about nearby options.
- VDSS COVID-19 Resources – Provides up-to-date information and guidance form the Virginia Department of Social Services.
- Medicaid and COVID-19 – Provides information about COVID-19 and Medicaid services, FAQs and how to access health care coverage
- Social Care Network – Search for free or reduced cost services like medical care, food, job training and more.
Graphics and Videos
- CDC Stop the Spread of Germs – Help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases like COVID-19.
- VDH Infographic Coronavirus Symptoms
- CDC Share the Facts about COVID-19
- Coronavirus Kid's Flyer
- Graphic Comic Explainer in English and Chinese
- Brainpop Video on Coronavirus
Guidelines for Student Attendance
In cases where a student’s attendance at school is impacted by quarantine or related restrictions, parents are highly encouraged to notify their child’s school immediately. Absences due to illness, quarantine, or related restrictions should be considered excused absences. Schools should make every effort to minimize the impact of lost instructional time by providing at-home assignments or access to available instructional supports. The United States Department of Education (ED)-This is a PDF document. provides additional guidelines to help schools plan for extended absences or school dismissal. While it is not expected that chronic absenteeism rates will be affected by COVID-19, schools concerned by a possible impact may explore the opportunity for their local school board to appeal a performance level indicator for state accreditation, as outlined in 8VAC20-131-380.F.6.
If there are questions regarding COVID-19, please contact Tracy White, VDOE School Health Specialist, by email at Tracy.White@doe.virginia.gov or by phone at (804) 786-8671.