Planning and Sustaining COVID-19 Recovery

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Since 2020, schools have played an important role in helping health officials and communities respond to the COVID-19 ("Coronavirus") pandemic across the United States. By collaborating and coordinating with State and local health departments, State and local educational agencies, other education leaders, and elected officials, school systems have also played a primary role in supporting students, their families, and staff. As schools manage learning and nurture well-being for America’s students, the National Center on Safe and Supportive Learning Environment [NCSSLE] appreciates the extraordinary challenges for school systems and communities as they continue to mitigate adverse impacts of the pandemic. On behalf of the U.S. Department of Education, the NCSSLE team is committed to identifying and building on lessons learned to reimagine what it means to create and maintain a safe and supportive learning environment within the context of planning and sustaining pandemic recovery. 

Note: This webpage is updated on an ongoing basis.

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Coverage and Payment of Vaccines and Vaccine Administration under Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Basic Health Program: Vaccines are essential for preventing disease and promoting the health of individuals and communities. Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) agencies play a pivotal role in ensuring that beneficiaries can access recommended vaccines. Vaccinations have long served as a critical tool for the prevention of disease, as a deterrent for outbreaks, and, over the past few years, as a response to public health emergencies (PHE) such as for COVID-19 and mpox. In recent years, federal statute, regulations, and guidance has mandated coverage requirements for COVID-19 vaccinations, as well as for certain vaccinations for adult Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries. With these mandates, states must navigate complex interrelated and overlapping vaccine coverage rules.

Stay Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines: COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States are effective at protecting people from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, and dying. As with other vaccine-preventable diseases, you are best protected from COVID-19 when you stay up to date with the recommended vaccinations.

Operational Guidance for K-12 Schools and Early Care and Education Programs to Support Safe In-Person Learning: Schools and early care and education (ECE) programs are an important part of the infrastructure of communities as they provide safe, supportive learning environments for students and children and enable parents and caregivers to be at work. Schools and ECE programs like Head Start also provide critical services that help to mitigate health disparities, such as school lunch programs, and social, physical, behavioral, and mental health services. This guidance can help K-12 schools and ECE programs remain open and help their administrators support safe, in-person learning while reducing the spread of COVID-19. Based on COVID-19 hospital admission levels, this guidance provides flexibility so schools and ECE programs can adapt to changing local situations, including periods of increased community health impacts from COVID-19.

Urgent Need to Increase Immunization Coverage for Influenza, COVID-19, and RSV and Use of Authorized/Approved Therapeutics in the Setting of Increased Respiratory Disease Activity During the 2023 – 2024 Winter Season: Alerts healthcare providers to low vaccination rates against influenza, COVID-19, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). This official CDC Health Advisory (12/14/23) warns that low vaccination rates, coupled with ongoing increases in national and international respiratory disease activity caused by  influenza viruses, SARS-CoV-2 and RSV, could lead to more severe disease and increased healthcare capacity strain in the coming weeks. In addition, a recent increase in cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) following SARS-CoV-2 infection has been reported. CDC advises that providers should recommend antiviral medications for influenza and COVID-19 for all eligible patients; and should also counsel patients about testing and other preventive measures, including covering coughs/sneezes, staying at home when sick, improving ventilation at home or work, and washing hands to protect themselves and others against respiratory diseases.

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The contents of the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments Web site were assembled under contracts from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Supportive Schools to the American Institutes for Research (AIR), Contract Number  91990021A0020.

This Web site is operated and maintained by AIR. The contents of this Web site do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the U.S. Department of Education nor do they imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education.

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