COVID-19 Back-to-school guidanceUpdated August 11, 2021 at 1:57 p.m.
After a challenging year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, families and students may feel excited and hopeful for a more promising school year. Many students are returning to the classroom, and this has many academic, emotional and social benefits.
With the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, we have more effective ways to prevent the spread of the virus. However, COVID-19 vaccines are not yet offered to children under the age of 12. In addition, the highly contagious Delta variant has caused an increase in COVID-19 spread.
As you prepare for and start the 2021-2022 school year, it’s highly important you continue to take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Taking all precautions available will provide the most protection to children and the community.
Anyone who is eligible should get vaccinated for COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and highly effective at preventing illness from COVID-19.
Currently, individuals ages 12 and older are able to get vaccinated. If you have children under the age of 12, one of the best ways to protect them is for everyone in your household who is eligible to get vaccinated. Remember that it takes two weeks after your final vaccination to be considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Learn more about the benefits of vaccination, where you can get vaccinated and answers to other frequently asked questions on our COVID-19 vaccine information page.
Face mask recommendations
With the increased spread of COVID-19 due to the Delta variant, it’s important for all students, even those who are fully vaccinated, to wear a mask inside school. Wearing a mask can help protect yourself as well as others, especially those who cannot be vaccinated or have weakened immune systems.
Additionally, the CDC recommends that all fully vaccinated individuals wear a mask in public, indoor places when in areas of high or substantial COVID-19 transmission, which currently includes the majority of North Texas (see map here). This is because vaccinated people have a small chance of getting infected with the COVID-19 virus, and if they do, they may spread the virus to other individuals.
Wearing a mask is a key way to prevent the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant and COVID-19 among students and the community. Children should bring several masks to school so that they have a backup if one or more of their masks get dirty or damaged. See tips to help your child wear a face mask.
Other safety precautions for students
Proper hand hygiene is an important step in lowering risk of COVID-19 infection, as well as other illnesses. Provide your child with hand sanitizer to bring to school and encourage them to wash or sanitize their hands frequently. Physical distancing in non-school settings and environments is also important for all members of your household to lower the risk of getting COVID-19.
Considerations for high-risk patients
While COVID-19 precautions are important for all students, they are extremely important to protect the health of high-risk individuals. Individuals with weakened immune systems may not be fully protected from COVID-19 even if they are fully vaccinated.
If your child has a health condition that puts them at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness, talk with your child’s pediatrician or specialist about the best ways to keep them healthy.
If it is determined that your child is unable to attend school and needs homebound instruction, you can request the appropriate paperwork from your child’s school for the physician to fill out. The school will review the documentation and determine if your child is eligible for the homebound program.
Recommendations for keeping students healthy may change depending on the level of COVID-19 spread. This page will be updated as new information becomes available.
- What to do if your child is exposed to COVID-19
- COVID-19 vaccine and children
- 8 tips to keep students healthy during COVID-19
- Back-to-school anxiety during COVID-19
- How to help your child adjust to in-person learning
- When to keep children home sick from school
- Current Children’s Health COVID-19 data
- CDC guidance for COVID-19 prevention in schools
- American Academy of Pediatrics: COVID-19 guidance for safe schools