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. Click to open a larger version of the image. 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...

DOD experts explain: The science behind the COVID-19 vaccines

Article
2/1/2021
Medical personnel in PPE, conducting lab tests

Six weeks after the first vaccines were approved for emergency use authorization in the U.S., there is much more to know about the vaccine products developed against COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Religious support team deploys to help frontline healthcare workers

Article
1/28/2021
Two military personnel, wearing masks, standing against a wall

Military chaplains and religious affairs specialist deploy to support our military medical providers responding working on the frontlines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Recommended Content:

Spiritual Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Coronavirus | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

SAMHS starts next phase of vaccine rollout, expands to 75 and older

Article
1/28/2021
Medical personnel giving a vaccine to a soldier in her right arm

Vaccinations for eligible 1b military personnel will be coordinated by their military units.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

DOD vaccinating personnel worldwide against COVID-19

Article
1/26/2021
Image of two soldiers, wearing masks: one is getting a vaccine in his left arm. Click to open a larger version of the image.

One-month update of COVID-19 distribution and administration efforts to DOD personnel.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

DHA director visits San Antonio military units, JBSA vaccination sites

Article
1/26/2021
Three military personnel, wearing masks, talking with each other in a hospital hallway

Army Lt. Gen Ronald Place, DHA director, recently visited JBSA vaccination sites and several other military locations in the greater San Antonio region.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

MHS Transformation results continue during COVID-19

Article
1/21/2021
Military personnel in a supply room, reaching for the top shelf

The MTF transition has enabled the DHA and the Services to increase standardization, eliminate duplicative contracts, and realize cost efficiencies by beginning the management of an enterprise-wide program.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Military Health System Transformation

DOD recommends adults 75 and older should seek COVID-19 vaccine

Article
1/19/2021
Image of nursing home members, wearing masks, waiting in a line to get their COVID vaccine. Click to open a larger version of the image.

This age recommendation differs slightly from that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends vaccinations for those 65 and older.

Recommended Content:

MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID-19 hinders blood donations during National Blood Donor Month

Article
1/14/2021
Navy Capt. R. Wade Blizzard, commanding officer of U.S. Navy Support Facility Diego Garcia, donates blood for the Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Units Diego Garcia walking blood bank on Dec. 17, 2020. The walking blood bank is a list of eligible donors who can provide blood in case of emergency. (U.S. Navy photo by Navy Seaman Apprentice Stevin Atkins)

Life-saving blood is in high-demand by the Armed Services Blood Program, as the COVID-19 has negatively impacted donations.

Recommended Content:

Armed Services Blood Program | Public Health | Coronavirus | Total Force Fitness Toolkit

Partnerships, COVID-19 are catalysts for enterprise virtual health

Article
1/14/2021
Image of Mr. Adler with text: "Partnerships, COVID-19 are catalysts for enterprise virtual health."

Jamie Adler, the lead for the DHA’s Virtual Health Clinical Integration Office, discusses the future of virtual health (VH).

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Connected Health | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID presents new set of challenges for DOD environmental health

Article
1/12/2021
Group of Marines, snowshoeing through the snow

One of the most important factors to take into account when maintaining one’s overall fitness is physical environment.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness Toolkit | Total Force Fitness Toolkit | Total Force Fitness Toolkit | Coronavirus | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Total Force Fitness

DOD Launches “My MilLife Guide” Text Message Program to Boost Wellness

Article
1/11/2021
The new My MilLife Guide program supports the wellness of the military community.

DoD has launched My MilLife Guide, a new program that sends text messages designed to help the military community boost overall wellness while navigating stresses related to COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health | Total Force Fitness | Health Readiness

Navy corpsman provides multitude of support to hospital

Article
1/8/2021
Two military personnel, wearing masks, in a supply room looking at the shelves

“Thinking outside the box is what makes a great person, let alone a Sailor," Tie said.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus

BACH healthcare workers and first responders vaccinated for COVID-19

Article
1/6/2021
Soldier gives a nurse a vaccine in her left arm

BACH now joins other Defense Health Agency military treatment facilities that have received the vaccine, marking the start of a phased-in vaccination program to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance

Countering seasonal depression during the COVID-19 pandemic

Article
1/5/2021
Man with his head in his hands, sitting in front of a Christmas tree

SAD, or sometimes called seasonal depression, is a subtype of a major depressive disorder.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Psychological Fitness | | Depression | Suicide Prevention

MHS operational innovations continue in battle against COVID-19

Article
1/5/2021
Two medical personnel, wearing full PPE, in an operating room

MHS innovations in 2020 include a new registry for real-time COVID-19 data and a system to free up hospital beds and protect patients from the disease.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Research and Innovation | | Technology | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Health Innovation Toolkit
<< < ... 6 7 8 9 10  ... > >> 
Showing results 136 - 150 Page 10 of 23

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.