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...

BACH Resumes Mom & Me Breastfeeding Support Group

Article Around MHS
8/11/2022
Military medical personnel weighs newborn

Blanchfield Army Community Hospital’s breastfeeding support group, Mom & Me, has resumed in-person meetings, Mondays from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Women’s Health Clinic.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Children's Health

5 Health Care Checkups for Your Child Before School Starts

Article Around MHS
7/28/2022
Boy with backpack shopping

Plan your Child's Check-Up before school starts.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Immunizations | Back to School Immunizations

Developmental Pediatrics Team Visits Vandenberg

Article Around MHS
7/1/2022
Military personnel conducting a class.

The Air Force Developmental Behavioral Family Readiness team hosted a workshop to introduce information on different programs that assist parents with special needs children. This workshop serves military families by directing and connecting them with services to help with their children’s developmental and behavioral needs.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health

Celebrating Military Children

Article Around MHS
4/19/2022
April is Month of the Military Child

April is Month of the Military Child

Recommended Content:

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

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 & the MHS Response

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 & the MHS Response

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 & the MHS Response

Getting up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccine

Article Around MHS
2/8/2022
Military personnel giving the COVID-19 vaccine

The U.S. Guard Coast is that we have vaccines to help prevent serious illness if you contract COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Oregon National Guard surging to support hospitals again

Article Around MHS
1/27/2022
Oregon Army National Guard touring a hospital

Hundreds of Oregon National Guard members are increasing support of hospitals throughout the state in their second hospital relief mission during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Readiness Capabilities

Public Health nurses offer insights on living with COVID-19 now, looking into future

Article Around MHS
1/25/2022
The Challenges of Living with COVID

One of the more challenging jobs for any public health professional is dealing with unpredictability inherent in outbreaks like the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Navy Hospital Corpsman steps into the breach in the war on COVID-19

Article Around MHS
1/18/2022
Hospitalman Hector Conde standing in front of a immunization office's refrigeration

First responders and those fighting on the medical battleground have earned well-deserved recognition for their efforts.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

This is my Why

Article Around MHS
12/30/2021
Air Force Senior Airman Marcus Bullock poses for a photo after receiving his COVID-19 vaccination

Air Force Senior Airman Marcus Bullock stated his reason for getting the vaccine was to help his mother and son be able to have a play date again.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

So others may breathe - Navy Medicine Respiratory Therapist cares for COVID casualties

Article Around MHS
12/13/2021
Military Health personnel posing for a picture

Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Tessa Hazard, a respiratory therapist, recently deployed to Alabama as a member of a COVID-19 response team.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Army Public Health Center provides update on Long COVID risks

Article Around MHS
12/1/2021
COVID19 Symptoms

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience four or more weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

JTF Coyote begins pediatric COVID-19 clinics as adult booster vaccination numbers increase

Article Around MHS
11/23/2021
Military health personnel giving the COVID-19 vaccine

The Vermont National Guard now supports the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic with vaccinations for youth in the 5 to 11 age group and booster clinics for the general adult population.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus & the MHS Response
<< < 1 2 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 2
Refine your search
Last Updated: December 03, 2021
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery