Start Strong: 2021-2022 In-Person Learning Guidelines and Resources

DHSS School Health Information

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) recognizes the importance of in-person learning for Alaska's students and supports the Department of Education and Early Development (DEED), schools, universities, and childcare programs, as well as students, families and staff, in the effort to return safely to classrooms and youth programs.

DHSS provides health guidance for schools based on evidence-based recommendations from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (updated July 9, 2021) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and works closely with DEED to consult with school communities on COVID-19 prevention, mitigation, and response.

On this page:

CDC Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Schools

The CDC continues to recommend vaccination as the leading public health strategy to end the pandemic. Promoting vaccination can help schools safely return to in-person learning as well as extracurricular activities and sports.

July 27, 2021 update

Given new evidence on the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant, CDC has updated the guidance for fully vaccinated people. CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place.

To get kids bck in-person salfely, schools should monitor community transmission, vaccination coverage, test and outbreaks to prevent the spread of COVID-19

Key points of the CDC's K-12 guidance include:

CDC Guidance for Operating Early Childhood Care and Education/Child Care Programs

Key points of the CDC's early care and education/ child care guidance include:

  • Promoting vaccination among eligible individuals can help Early Care and Education programs protect staff and children in their care, as well as their families.
  • Most Early Care and Education programs serve children under the age of 12 who are not yet eligible for vaccination at this time. Therefore, this guidance emphasizes implementing layered COVID-19 prevention strategies (e.g., using multiple prevention strategies together) to protect children and adults who are not fully vaccinated.
  • COVID-19 prevention strategies remain critical to protect people, including children and staff, especially in areas of moderate-to-high community transmission levels.
  • Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (ages 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated. Early Care and Education settings may implement universal mask use in some situations, such as if they serve a population not yet eligible for vaccination or if they have increasing, substantial, or high COVID-19 transmission in their Early Care and Education program or community.
  • Localities should monitor community transmission, vaccination coverage, the occurrence of outbreaks, and local policies and regulations to guide decisions on the use of layered prevention strategies.

American Academy of Pediatrics COVID-19 Guidance for Safe Schools

Key points of the American Academy of Pediatrics' guidance include:

  • All eligible individuals should receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
    • It may become necessary for schools to collect COVID-19 vaccine information of staff and students and for schools to require COVID-19 vaccination for in-person learning.
    • Adequate and timely COVID-19 vaccination resources for the whole school community must be available and accessible.
  • All students older than 2 years and all school staff should wear face masks at school (unless medical or developmental conditions prohibit use). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends universal masking in school at this time for the following reasons:
    • A significant portion of the student population is not eligible for vaccination.
    • Protection of unvaccinated students from COVID-19 and to reduce transmission.
    • Potential difficulty in monitoring or enforcing mask policies for those who are not vaccinated; in the absence of schools being able to conduct this monitoring, universal masking is the best and most effective strategy to create consistent messages, expectations, enforcement, and compliance without the added burden of needing to monitor vaccination status.
    • Possibility of low vaccination uptake within the surrounding school community.
    • Continued concerns for variants that are more easily spread among children, adolescents, and adults.

COVID-19 Testing Information

All school districts have been allocated funds to cover the expenses associated with COVID-19 testing. These funds can be used to cover the costs if school staff performs testing and analysis, or to contract those activities with local health partners or labs. For more information, contact

For information about public testing for all Alaskans, please visit To find a testing location near you, visit the State of Alaska testing site locator.

COVID-19 Vaccination Information

Required/Routine Childhood Immunizations

Additional Resources

School Health ECHO

The School Health ECHO is a virtual learning network intended for professionals in the education setting (administrators, school board members, educators, school nurses and staff) to interface with a team of medical and education experts in Alaska. This ECHO meets weekly, every Monday at 3:30pm:

DHSS Contacts

For the School Health and Safety Program within the Division of Public Health, contact and 907-269-3433.