Skip to main content

Military Health System

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 MHS Response

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...

Wright-Patt doctor finds treatment path for military child with rare neurological condition

Article Around MHS
2/3/2023
Reeve completes a 2022 summer triathlon. Reeve was assisted by Lt. Col. Cassandra Burns, 88th Medical Group pediatric neurologist, after being diagnosed with a rare case of cerebral folate deficiency at four years old, along with being diagnosed with down syndrome at birth. (Courtesy Photo)

For the Anderson family, protecting their 8-year-old son, Reeve, has proven to be the fight of his lifetime. Reeve, born with Down syndrome, lived as a normal kid until he started to develop curious symptoms. His parents, Shana and Jason, were completely surprised and knew they weren’t normal.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health

Sesame Workshop Rolls Out Self Care Content for Military Families

Article Around MHS
2/3/2023
A video still shows the Muppet Elmo and his father looking toward the camera.

Sesame Workshop has launched new digital resources for military parents and children that offer simple strategies for mental health and self-care. The resources include videos demonstrating the importance of finding the little wins, being flexible with routines, meal planning and even learning how to be still and quiet.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Psychological Fitness

Genome Sequencing Assists Research at Naval Health Research Center

Article
1/24/2023
Lab technicians doing genome research

Learn how unique samples from naval vessels, US-Mexico border populations, and DOD beneficiaries aided in the Naval Health Research Center’s sequencing efforts.

Recommended Content:

Research & Innovation | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus

U.S. Military HIV Research Lends Lessons Learned to COVID-19

Article
1/19/2023
Gloved hands working in laboratory

The U.S. military has engaged in HIV research for three decades, contributing critical lessons learned, knowledge, and expertise during the COVID-19 research and vaccine development effort.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | DOD HIV/AIDS Prevention Program | Research & Innovation | Coronavirus

Naval Medical Research Center Uses Genome Sequencing for Variants

Article
1/12/2023
Military personnel pose for a group photo

NMRC’s efforts provided important support for sequencing and viral isolation to the Department of Defense and Military Health System.

Recommended Content:

Research & Innovation | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus

USAMRIID Focuses on Genome Sequencing to Detect Variants

Article
1/5/2023
Military medical personnel in laboratory

A connected family of laboratories across the MHS allows a more rapid response to the outbreak.

Recommended Content:

Research & Innovation | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus

Whole Genome Sequencing at Tripler Army Medical Center

Article
12/29/2022
Dr. Keith Fong reviews data with other lab technicians

The third installment in a 6-part series highlighting the efforts of the Military Health System laboratories and the technicians who worked to identify COVID-19 variants using special sequencing technology.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Research & Innovation | Coronavirus

Walter Reed Army Institute of Research Implements SARS-CoV-2 Genome Sequencing

Article
12/23/2022
Military medical personnel in laboratory

This is the second article in a 6-part series that highlights the work of technicians and scientists in Military Health System laboratories who worked to identify COVID-19 variants using special sequencing technology.

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Research & Innovation

Blanchfield Named One of Best Hospitals for Maternity Care

Article Around MHS
12/22/2022
Meternity patients filling out forms

Providing safe, excellent, quality care to patients takes incredible work and dedication - especially when it comes to women's health. Find out what's happening at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital that landed them a top spot on the Best Hospitals for Maternity Care list.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Children's Health

Protect Yourself With Respiratory Illnesses on the Rise

Article Around MHS
12/19/2022
Military medical personnel administering vaccine

"Tis the season, and respiratory illnesses are on the rise. Learn critical health guidance about the viral triple threat of COVID-19, influenza, and the common cold, and the commonsense steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Children's Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Immunization Tool Kit | Influenza, Northern Hemisphere | Immunization Healthcare Division

Military Labs Use Whole Genome Sequencing of COVID-19 Variants

Article
12/16/2022
Lab technician at work

The first in a 6-part series highlighting the work of technicians and scientists working in support of the MHS who identified COVID-19 variants using special sequencing technology.

Recommended Content:

Research & Innovation | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus

DOD Reduces Health Care Waste by Reusing Crutches

Article
12/15/2022
Military personnel using crutches

When military facilities faced a national shortage of an essential mobility aid, they launched a grassroots initiative that not only ensured patient care, but also created a new waste reduction model within the DHA.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Naval Medical Research Center Joint Study with Mount Sinai Uncovers Differences in COVID-19 Immune Response between the Sexes

Article Around MHS
12/5/2022
Amanda Cherry, research assistant, performing diagnostic testing at NMRC

A collaborative study between researchers at Naval Medical Research Center and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Princeton University has highlighted immune response differences in the coronavirus infection responses between male and female patients.

Recommended Content:

Medical Research and Development | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus

What You Should Know About RSV: Symptoms, Prevention, Care

Article Around MHS
11/14/2022
infant smiling

You may have heard of a virus called respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV. But do you know how serious it is and who is most at risk? Learn the signs, and how quickly RSV can put patients at risk of serious illness, hospitalization, and even death.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Total Body Preventive Health - Dental, Medical & Mental

Collaborating In the ER: Reservists Assist, Learn in Community Hospitals

Article Around MHS
10/20/2022
Military medical personnel in medical training session

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic–when there were no vaccines, a shortage of health care workers, and hospitals were beyond capacity– the U.S. health care system needed help. Here's one of many ways the Department of Defense answered the call.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 26
Refine your search
Last Updated: January 26, 2023
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery