Returning to School Safely

VBCPS is so excited to welcome back our students to in-person instruction, five days a week, in the 2021-22 school year!

With the COVID-19 pandemic still very much a reality for our community, it’s a primary goal that we maintain a safe learning environment for our students, teachers, staff and families. That’s why we’re hoping you’ll join us as we continue to #VBSafeTogether.


Please come back often to this webpage for the latest information on VBCPS’ commitment to safety, access to resources and guidance from national and regional health officials, and suggestions for how you can partner with us to keep our classrooms and community healthy.


For the safety of students, staff and the community at large and in accordance with Virginia law we will continue to follow the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Virginia Department of Health.

It is a state requirement that, “all individuals aged two and older to wear masks when indoors at public and private K-12 schools.” Therefore VBCPS requires that:
•Regardless of vaccination status, all students, staff and visitors must wear face coverings while inside all VBCPS school and administrative buildings.
•Regardless of vaccination status, all students and staff must wear face coverings while riding the bus, in accordance with a Federal Order.

Masks are not required outdoors but are encouraged in order to limit opportunities for the virus to spread in our community.

Mask alternatives or exemptions for medical conditions will be allowed. If you have questions, please contact your school.

Masking guidance:


According to the CDC and VDH, the most important thing we can do to keep our schools safe and open all year is to get the COVID-19 vaccine. All available COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective, including among children 5 years and older, for preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death.

For more information on the vaccine including where to get vaccinated, visit the VDH COVID-19 vaccine webpage.

Physical Distancing

With the primary goal of returning all students to face-to-face instruction five days per week, physical distancing in schools will be maximized to the greatest extent possible.

School Building Visitors

We are pleased to welcome volunteers and visitors back into school buildings as of Nov.1, and that includes attendance to school performances, i.e., chorus/band concerts. Visitors are encouraged to make appointments, but they are no longer required. As always, all COVID-19 mitigations will be followed.

If you are interested in volunteering in our schools, please visit our Family and Community Engagement webpage.


VBCPS will be returning to routine cleaning protocols and using enhanced cleaning protocols only when needed in consultation with VBDPH to address specific problem areas. CDC guidance states that “in general, cleaning once a day is usually enough to sufficiently remove potential virus that may be on surfaces."


All students and staff must wear a face covering while riding the bus, in accordance with a Federal Executive Order. While capacity will not be restricted for COVID reasons, students will be given seat assignments to assist with contract tracing. 

Food Services

As our schools welcome back students Sept. 9, please know that VBCPS will be providing free breakfast and lunch meals for ALL students. Food Services will be operating under the National School Lunch Program’s (NSLP) Seamless Summer Option (SSO). This program will be in effect for the entire 2021-22 school year.

Virtual students can pick up their daily meals at any school site. As was done last school year, the designated pickup site will be clearly marked. Due to limited staff and in order to keep from interfering with regular meal service, meals must be picked up between:

  • 9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. at elementary sites,
  • 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. at middle school sites, and
  • 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. at high schools.

Should you need an alternate time, please contact the school manager and make arrangements. Updates and current details can be found on the Office of Food Services website.

How will payments of a la carte meals be processed?
We will commence the school year by serving complete reimbursable meals only. A la carte items will be offered should your school decide to begin a la carte service.

Are Free and Reduced Price meal applications available on
Parents should continue to submit Free and Reduced Price meal applications to maintain eligibility in our Point of Service system and to establish eligibility for other benefits for the 2021-22 school year. Most parents (95%) currently submit applications through their SchoolCafé online accounts, but new school year paper applications will be sent to schools prior to the start of school.

Since many parents use their benefits acceptance letter to qualify for reduced prices on afterschool care, reduced cable and/or insurance bills, etc., they must have a current school year processed application on file for an award letter to be generated. Parents that submitted applications last school year will maintain last year’s eligibility until October 20, 2021. All new applications must be submitted prior to that date or student eligibility will automatically convert to “Paid” status.

Who should parents contact if they need assistance in regard to food service?
Questions should be directed to the Office of Food Services at 263-1101 or by e-mail to

Ventilation and Opening Windows

Ventilation and HVAC systems will continue to be maintained to ensure that they function as designed. When conditions permit, windows will be opened to help circulate air. VBCPS intends to outfit classrooms, clinics and isolation rooms in school buildings with portable air filtration units containing High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters.

Screening for COVID-19, Staying Home When Sick

It’s extremely important that students and families are vigilant about screening for illness before coming to school. Any student who is ill or presents with COVID-like symptoms should stay home. 

Contact Tracing and Quarantining

When a COVID-19 case has been reported to the school division and confirmed, we will work with the Virginia Beach Department of Public Health to conduct a contact tracing investigation and determine if quarantining is necessary. For more information, visit our COVID-19 webpage.

Monitoring Metrics

To guide decisions regarding the level of layered prevention strategies, the VDH recommends localities monitor community transmission, vaccination coverage, screening testing, and occurrence of outbreaks.
There are two measures that are recommended to monitor the level of community transmission:
Virginia Beach’s total number of new cases per 100,000 persons in the past 7 days, and the percentage of nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT) that are positive in the last 7 days. 

Table of metrics information for VDH guidelines 

As of August 10, 2021, Virginia Beach was in the high transmission range for the total number of new cases per 100,000 persons in the past 7 days, and the substantial range for percent of NAATs that were positive in the past 7 days. As the year progresses, we will continue to work with the VBDPH to assess, move forward, and remove layers of mitigation when it is safe to do so. Find the Virginia Department of Health metrics here.


Sports and Extracurricular Offerings

Schools are permitted to field varsity, junior varsity, and middle school sports teams as well as extracurricular activities such as debate team, clubs etc. following proper safety mitigations. For more information on specific extracurricular activities at the school level, please reach out to your child’s school.

All student-athletes who intend to participate in winter sports activities (or athletic conditioning that requires a physical for participation) must submit proof of full COVID-19 vaccination, submit proof of a positive COVD-19 test within the previous 90 days, or submit to weekly testing. Because of the increased chance of contracting the coronavirus when participating in athletic competition or conditioning in an indoor setting, this testing process is designed to be an additional layer of our mitigation strategy for keeping our students, staff and their families as safe as possible.

Timeline for testing and document-gathering:
In planning for the rollout of testing and collecting vaccination statuses, we are working from the following timeline:
• High school tryouts begin Nov. 8.
• High school contests are scheduled to start Nov. 29.


• Vaccinated athletes must present proof of vaccination to the school nurse as soon as Nov. 1, but no later than Wednesday, Nov. 10.
• Unvaccinated athletes who have had COVID within the last 90 days must submit documentation from their medical provider -- noting the date when they were cleared to return to school -- to their school nurse as soon as Nov. 1, but no later than Wednesday, Nov. 10.
• All other unvaccinated athletes must participate in weekly testing at their home school. Parental/guardian consent and registration with Mako Medical Laboratories (MML) for testing are required. Consent forms and a unique link to the MML site will be provided by schools to all winter athletes or anyone participating in winter conditioning programs. These forms may be submitted as soon as Nov. 1, but are due back to school nurse by Wednesday, Nov. 10.

Our testing company and their process:
The testing process begins Monday, Nov. 15, and the weekly schedule will be determined centrally with each school testing on the same day each week. Testing will primarily occur after school hours, before or after practice, but may occur during the lunch period periodically.

Testing will be conducted by Mako Medical Laboratories, the vendor assigned to VBCPS by the Virginia Department of Health. Mako will handle all testing supplies and materials as well as working with VBCPS to employ testing coordinators, nurses and mitigation specialists. There is no cost to you or the division for this testing program.

Mako will be using a PCR test to detect COVID-19.

The process is:
• An individual “shallow nasal swab” is taken by Mako or division-trained staff.
• All swabs are placed into a single vial to be tested by Mako Medical Labs, with results available within 24-48 hours.
• While awaiting results, all student-athletes may continue to participate.
• If any student-athlete is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, then he/she should stay home until test results are back.

More information about the testing process will be provided by your child’s school.

Facility Use Requests

As part of our COVID prevention strategy to begin the 2021-2022 school year, VBCPS will not approve any further indoor facility use requests except those that occur after students and staff (custodians excluded) have exited the building.  Facility Use Requests that conflict with extracurricular activities and other partner programing (Parks and Recreation programs like KidzQuest and RISE, for example) will also be disapproved.  
VBCPS will honor currently approved Facility Use Requests and intends to only restrict future approvals.  As you know, we continue to monitor the spread of the virus and may reevaluate currently approved requests if there is an increased risk to schools.  Similarly, when risk has decreased to an acceptable level, this layer of prevention may be relaxed.