Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

DODEA Schools Keeps On With In-Person Classes, and Fall Sports, Too

Image of Kids playing football. Linemen from the Fort Knox Eagles football team practice reaction drills in August 2021, learning to anticipate moving when the ball moves (Photo by: Eric Pilgrim, Fort Knox).

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Coronavirus

The thud of kicked soccer balls, the clash of shoulder pads at football games, and cheers from classmates and parents are once again being heard around the world at Department of Defense Education Activity schools.

Despite continued concerns about COVID-19, fall sports and activities have resumed after a tough autumn in 2020, when those sounds were absent.

"The coaches worked really hard with our public health partners and the military to come up with a plan so we can do that safely," said Josh Adams, community superintendent for DODEA's schools in Kentucky (at Fort Knox and Fort Campbell).

While fall sports were a casualty of COVID-19 in 2020, DODEA schools in general weathered the pandemic rather well, superintendents at home and abroad said. And with the new year well underway, DODEA officials are optimistic they can carry on the success experienced during the worst months of the pandemic, when many DOD schools remained open for in-person learning, in contrast to most civilian schools.

Adams noted that some sports resumed in the spring and went smoothly, and that his Kentucky district is seeking to provide the most normal and positive learning environment that it possibly can.

"The entire DODEA community rose to meet this challenge during [school years] 2019-20 and 2020-21 with flexibility and determination," wrote DODEA Director Thomas Brady, in his message in the DODEA COVID-19 Operational Guidelines and Protocols for Schools, Version 7, released shortly before the school year began.

Brady said infection rates remained low throughout the pandemic for both students and staff.

"I remain incredibly grateful for all the effort put in last year by administrators and teachers and our partners in command, and parents, the students, to put in place and then maintain all the mitigation we had last year," said Adams. "It allowed us to stay in in-person schooling almost the entire year."

Adams said there were a few occasions that called for the closure of individual classrooms or an entire school for periods of quarantine.

"The low infection rates coupled with DoDEA's ability to provide uninterrupted instruction serve as evidence of the efficacy of this plan and of DoDEA's unwavering commitment to the total force and the warfighter's mission readiness," Brady wrote.

"To maximize in-person learning opportunities for all students, DoDEA will continue to implement multiple layers of prevention strategies."

Regarding COVID-19 vaccinations, DODEA, which includes schools for pre-K through grade 12, worked with the military in the spring to provide vaccine opportunities to all employees, including teachers, and Adams said a majority received it.

For students age 12 and over, districts have left that decision to parents, a policy that is still in place. Currently children 12 and older are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. Access to vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 may be approved later this year.

Adams, who arrived at his job in Kentucky during the height of a national lockdown in July 2020, said he sees an "increased confidence" from his teachers and administrators on what to do in the new school year.

student wearing a face mask in class
A student at Vogelweh Elementary School in Germany pays attention during a lesson in September 2020 (Russell Toof, Regional Health Command Europe).

"We offered students a couple of options last year," he said. "In-person schooling with all our mitigation strategies in place to keep us safe, or they could also participate in a virtual school option. ... The majority of students came to school and by the end of the year it was the vast majority that were in-person."

Mitigation strategies varied across the DODEA school systems and included wearing masks, providing easy access to COVID testing and increased vigilance from school nursing teams.

Teachers were nimble, he said, adding that if a classroom had to be quarantined for a period, they "were amazing at immediately pivoting to remote learning for their students, so that students just picked right up a day or two later. We had to do that a few times last year."

In school, overseas

For DODEA schools overseas, in-person schooling was the primary goal, but there were more frequent and periodic school closures influenced by the mandates of host nations.

"We had one small block of time when we were remote," said Jason Ter Horst, community superintendent of DODEA's Europe East district, based in Kaiserslautern, Germany and comprised of 32 schools in seven military communities.

"But honestly that was because the host nation, Germany in this case, put their schools in recess and we followed suit, despite the fact that our mitigation strategies seemed to be working really effectively," Ter Horst said.

Ter Horst said his district had outstanding support from DODEA headquarters in the region, and partners such as its local logistics teams, base commanders, and public health officials.

"We had very few incidents and we didn't have any that were necessarily proven to be school-transmitted, person-to-person," he said. "We felt our efforts were really robust and allowed us to maintain in-school, in-person learning."

That COVID-19 has disproportionately affected older people helped the mitigation efforts of schools, but new strains of the virus, including the Delta variant that is driving up hospitalizations and deaths around the world, has DODEA officials remaining on high alert. Going into the fall, Adams said in early August that his team was expecting and looking forward to the same effort and focus from the previous school year.

"We are also feeling confident that between the really good, up-to-date guidance we continue to get from DODEA and our military partners, that we're doing our mitigation correctly," he said.

An example of these strategies is a recent tabletop exercise at U.S. Army Garrison Daegu at Camp Walker in Korea. The USAG Daegu commander and the DODEA Pacific West District superintendent joined more than two dozen partners to consider steps required to respond safely and quickly to mitigate COVID-19 impacts to classroom learning.

The virus does continue to shutter classrooms, despite all the precautions. DODEA reported that new cases of COVID-19 were reported at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, in mid-September, resulting in the closure of 19 classrooms at six schools.

"It helps when everybody's on the team. Teachers, parents and kids were all adhering to the guidelines," said Ter Horst. "Last year, our military command had their public health team offer a meeting for our [school] nurses on a weekly basis to answer questions as they came up. They worked with our regional office on policy setting. The COVID environment has certainly taught us all how to be very flexible. We gather information, we make informed decisions on data, and I think we'll continue to do that this year."

DODEA operates 160 schools in eight districts, located in 11 foreign countries, seven states, and two U.S. territories, with a total enrollment of more than 60,000 students.

You also may be interested in...

Kids' Teeth Grinding Usually Stops Around Age 9 or 10 - But Not Always

Article
4/15/2022
A child receives dental treatment during the “Give Kids a Smile” day event March 9, 2019, held by the 375th Dental Squadron clinic on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. Children registered for the event were given the chance to receive cleanings, fillings, and more at no cost to their parents. (Photo: Airman 1st Class Isaiah Gonzalez, 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs)

Do you ever see or hear your child grinding his or her teeth or clenching his or her jaws during the day or at night while sleeping? That’s a potentially serious health problem. Teeth grinding in kids may require a night guard.

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Children's Health | TRICARE Dental Care

8 Tips to Help Kids Adjust to Change during the New Pandemic Phase

Article
4/15/2022
A parent comforts his child while she receives a pediatric dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 28, 2022. (Photo: Airman 1st Class Anna Nolte, 18th Wing Public Affairs)

Parents should prepare their kids for the new normal of the ongoing pandemic, recognizing that the status of the disease can change quickly as new variants of COVID-19 emerge.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | Children's Health

Got Your 6 | April 16, 2022

Video
4/15/2022
Got Your 6 | April 16, 2022

‘Got Your 6’ is TRICARE’s COVID vaccine video series that delivers important information and updates, on days that end in ‘6.’ It includes the latest information about DOD vaccine distribution, the TRICARE health benefit, and vaccine availability. Got a question about ‘Got Your 6’? Send an email to dha.ncr.comm.mbx.dha-internal-communications@mail.mil Find your local military provider at tricare.mil/MTF, or go to tricare.mil/vaccineappointments and schedule yours today!

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Thank you for being a Military Kid

Video
4/12/2022
Thank you for being a Military Kid

Military parents read letters to their children, thanking them for all they do to support the mission. Thank you for being a military kid. Thank you for being resilient and supportive throughout our many years of service. Thank you for helping Mommy around the house and being so strong when I have to be gone for days, weeks or months at a time. Changing states, homes, schools and activities isn't easy. But you took it as a new adventure. The courage you have by going to three different schools in three years really makes me look up to you. I am blessed, thankful and grateful to have such beautiful and handsome, loving kids who not only support me but each other while I'm away. You are the reason why I work so hard. Thank you for always keeping your spirit. Most of all, thank you for being you. Your smiles, laughs and love are what I've gotten me through every day. I love you. And thank you for everything you do. This video was originally created for a 2019 Military Kids Connect campaign.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child - Celebrating Military Kids | Children's Health

Military Medical Officials Back FY 23 Budget Before Senate Appropriations Committee

Article
4/6/2022
Marines with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing take precautionary measures by cleaning and disinfecting their hands during field day on Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., March 20, 2020, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while continuing to perform mission-essential tasks. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jaime Reyes)

Military Medical officials, including Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place, Defense Health Agency director, back FY 23 Budget before the Senate Appropriations Committee, March 29, 2022.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus

How COVID-19 Made the Military Medical Community Stronger

Article
3/21/2022
Image of a service member being treated

Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic has made the military medical community stronger and will help when confronting the next crisis, whether that’s another pandemic, a new conflict or natural disaster

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

National Infant Immunization Week

Infographic
3/15/2022
National Infant Immunization Week

It’s more important than ever to help protect children from vaccine-preventable diseases. This #NationalInfantImmunizationWeek make sure your child and children around them are safe by ensuring your infant is properly vaccinated.

Recommended Content:

April | Immunizations | Children's Health

COVID-19 Responses Underscore Importance of Patient Safety

Article
3/14/2022
Every day, patient safety is one of the top priorities for the Defense Health Agency. Patient safety means providing ready, reliable care to service members, veterans, and dependents no matter the circumstances. (Photo: Defense Health Agency)

Patient safety is a topmost concern of MHS, and Patient Safety Awareness Week 2022 focuses on Ready, Reliable Care.

Recommended Content:

Patient Safety | Patient Safety Awareness Week | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | Patient Safety Awareness Week

Defense Department Announces Distribution of COVID-19 Tests for Military Beneficiaries

Article
2/25/2022
A Soldier assigned to the Connecticut National Guard helps load a shipment of at-home COVID-19 testing kits into a truck at a regional distribution point in North Haven, Connecticut, Jan. 3, 2022. These kits were picked up by representatives from local towns and municipalities to be handed out to their communities.

The Department of Defense will offer at-home COVID-19 tests for military beneficiaries at military hospitals or clinics, on a supply available basis, in the coming weeks.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | At-Home COVID-19 Tests | Coronavirus

Answering Your Questions About COVID-19 Testing

Article
2/25/2022
Military personnel performing a COVID-19 Test

COVID-19 continues to spread, now as the Omicron variant. Getting vaccinated is the most effective way to protect you and your family from getting seriously ill, getting hospitalized, or dying. You should also make sure you’re up to date with your vaccines. Testing is another important step you can take to protect yourself and others.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | At-Home COVID-19 Tests

Latasha Smith: Warrior against COVID-19

Article Around MHS
2/18/2022
Military personnel looking at a patient's cardiac rhythm

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Latasha Smith, an Airman assigned to the 86th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, was celebrated as Airlifter of the Week, Jan. 27, 2022, after leading the assault against COVID-19 for over a year.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Military Medical Units Support Civilian Hospitals Strained By COVID-19 Surge

Article
2/14/2022
Air Force Staff Sgt. Bradley Gorman, a medical technician assigned to a military medical team deployed to Yuma, Arizona performs a nasal swab at the Yuma Regional Medical Center’s COVID testing drive-thru in Yuma, Jan. 17, 2022.

Thousands of service members have been supporting civilian hospitals with testing, vaccinations and treatment of seriously ill patients.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

COVID-19 therapeutics support DOD pandemic response

Article Around MHS
2/11/2022
Military personnel getting COVID-29 doses ready

The U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency is helping to protect the operational force by distributing several new therapeutic options that help to lessen the symptoms of mild-to-moderate cases of COVID-19 and keep Soldiers, their families and beneficiaries out of the hospital.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

COVID-19 Health Action Response for Marines continues to study long-term effects of COVID-19 on Marines

Article Around MHS
2/10/2022
Medical military personnel talking to a patient

A team composed of U.S. Navy medical personnel and civilian technicians based out of the Naval Medical Research Center in Silver Spring, Maryland, assembled during the initial outbreak of COVID-19 to study the short and long-term effects that the virus has on Marines. 

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Does CSM Gragg Have COVID-19?

Video
2/9/2022
Does CSM Gragg Have COVID-19?

CSM Gragg demonstrates how to use a COVID-19 at home rapid test.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | At-Home COVID-19 Tests | Coronavirus
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 16 - 30 Page 2 of 32
Refine your search
Last Updated: December 03, 2021

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.