The Department of Education has been hard at work supporting school communities with offering safe in-person instruction this school year. Please see below latest updates in three key school safety areas.

COVID-19 Data Dashboard
Today, the Department of Education, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is launching 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 will be presented in a single location to the public.

To present data on school modalities, CDC researchers partnered with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory to develop a model to estimate the most likely learning modality (in-person, hybrid, and remote) for public and public charter school districts nationwide. These findings were originally presented in a recently published MMWR, and now CDC will be providing the data on a weekly basis.

5–11-Year-Old Vaccinations
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially recommended that children 5 to 11 years old be vaccinated against COVID-19 with the Pfizer-BioNtech pediatric vaccine. This recommendation comes after months and months of rigorous review and the FDA’s decision to authorize emergency use of the vaccine for children. This is an exciting moment in our fight against the virus. After 18 months of a pandemic, parents have long awaited this day.

The COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to keep your child safe and protect them against COVID-19, including the Delta variant. Kids are being infected with COVID-19, occasionally leading to serious illness and even death in certain cases. Even if your child doesn’t get severely ill, they could be diagnosed with what is known as “long COVID” and face long-term health consequences or pass the virus on to others.

Beginning the week of November 8th, the pediatric vaccination program will be fully up and running, and parents will have approximately 20,000 trusted and convenient locations to get their children vaccinated with more sites coming online in the weeks ahead.

The Department of Education, alongside the Department of Health and Human Services are supporting schools and communities with setting up vaccine solutions that work best for families including hosting thousands of school located vaccine clinics, matching school districts to local pharmacy providers, and supporting strong collaboration between schools, families and local pediatricians and children’s hospitals. To learn more about getting vaccinated or standing up a vaccine clinic at your school or community, visit www.vaccines.gov.

In an effort to keep schools open and safe, the Department, alongside the CDC is providing resources to states and schools for testing and other mitigation efforts. Last week, we announced a plan to partner with the Rockefeller Foundation to accelerate school-based screening testing for students and staff. ED, CDC, and The Rockefeller Foundation will collaborate on initiatives to make it easier for schools to set up testing, including by:

  • Making staff available to state health departments through the COVID Workforce Initiative to coordinate, execute, and expand on school-based COVID-19 testing, contact tracing/case investigation, and other public health activities. This additional support from the CDC Foundation can be obtained by contacting CDC at this link.
  • Publishing a start-up guide for schools on how to launch screening testing programs.
  • Holding weekly “office hours” to connect schools to national testing experts to set up and sustain screening testing programs, the details of which can be found at The Rockefeller Foundation website.
  • Launching a directory for schools to identify a provider and get started with testing within their state.
  • Released guidance for school districts on using American Rescue Plan funds to provide incentives to parents and guardians to participate in screening testing program

Thank you for your continued commitment to keeping schools open and safe for students across the country. Please follow us on @USEDGov and @SecCardona on Twitter for regular updates.