Report | Sept. 24, 2021

Audit of Department of Defense Education Activity Controls Related to the Spread of Coronavirus Disease–2019 (DODIG-2021-128)

Audit

Publicly Released: September 28, 2021

 

Objective

The objective of this audit was to determine whether the DoD Education Activity (DoDEA) developed and implemented controls in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and DoD guidance related to the spread of coronavirus disease–2019 (COVID‑19).

 

Background

DoDEA employs over 11,500 full‑time employees and serves more than 64,000 children of active duty military and DoD civilian families. DoDEA operates as a field activity of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, through the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.

DoDEA operates 160 schools in 8 districts that are located in 11 foreign countries, 7 states, Guam, and Puerto Rico. DoDEA schools are separated into three regions: DoDEA Americas, DoDEA Europe, and DoDEA Pacific.

COVID‑19 is an infectious disease that can cause a wide spectrum of symptoms. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID‑19 outbreak a pandemic, and on March 13, 2020, the President declared the COVID‑19 pandemic a national emergency. Transmission of the disease can occur when people are in close contact with one another, within 6 feet. Symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, and body aches.

The CDC issued COVID‑19 guidance in August 2020 to aid school administrators as they determined how to protect the health and safety of students, teachers, other school staff, their families, and communities and prepare for educating students in the fall. COVID‑19 protective measures include maintaining a 6-foot distance from others (social distancing), washing September 24, 2021 hands (hand hygiene), training staff, and communicating with students, parents, and caregivers. DoD guidance recommends that DoD Components follow CDC guidance to protect all personnel from disease transmission in DoD workplaces.

We reviewed a sample of 5 elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools from each of the 3 DoDEA regions, totaling 15 schools out of 160 schools.

 

Finding

DoDEA developed and implemented controls in accordance with CDC and DoD guidance related to the spread of COVID‑19. Specifically, DoDEA issued COVID‑19 operational guidelines, and the 15 individual DoDEA schools we reviewed implemented controls for:

  • developing multiple COVID‑19 mitigation strategies, such as social distancing, masks, and hand hygiene;
  • communicating, educating, and reinforcing appropriate hygiene and social distancing practices in ways that were developmentally appropriate for students, teachers, and staff;
  • maintaining healthy environments, such as cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces;
  • developing a proactive plan for when a student or staff member tested positive for COVID‑19; and
  • educating parents and caregivers on the importance of monitoring for and responding to the symptoms of COVID‑19 at home.

As a result, the 15 individual DoDEA schools provided staff, students, and parents information and training on effective hygiene, social distancing, cleaning, and identifying the signs of COVID‑19 to reduce the risk of COVID‑19 spread for students, teachers, and staff members.

 

Management Comments

Although not required to comment, the DoDEA Director provided comments to acknowledge the audit. The Director highlighted the efforts taken by DoDEA personnel to prioritize health and safety, provide flexible and creative ways to educate students, and expand the DoDEA Virtual High School to provide educational services for all grade levels.

 

This report is the result of Proj. No. D2021-D000RM-0021.000.