COVID-19 Information » State COVID-19 Updates and Guidelines

State COVID-19 Updates and Guidelines

On Friday, July 17, 2020, Governor Newsom released updated California Department of Public Health (CDPH) State guidance on how to implement in-person instruction for the 2020-21 school year, given the latest spike in COVID-19 cases throughout the state. The new guidance is not intended to revoke any worker rights, either statutory, regulatory or collectively bargained, and is not exhaustive as county health orders and existing safety and health-related requirements.

The updated guidance applies to California public school districts and county offices of education, charter schools, and private schools including nonsectarian schools. This guidance is not intended to prevent a local educational agency (LEA) from adopting a distance learning, hybrid, or mixed-delivery instructional model.



In-Person Reopening Criteria

If a local health jurisdiction (LHJ) has been on the State monitoring list within the last 14 days, the school and school district must conduct distance learning only, until the LHJ has been removed from the monitoring list for at least 14 days.

A Superintendent of a school district with an elementary school site(s) can seek a waiver to continue to operate in-person instruction from their local health officer, but the request must be made in consultation with labor, parents, and community organizations. The local health officials will review local conditions and consult with CDPH when considering a waiver request.

When schools re-open in-person services, it is recommended that surveillance testing be implemented based on the local disease trends to detect potential cases, as lab testing capacity allows.

In the event that the county or LHJ is placed on the county monitoring list, a school should begin testing staff or increase frequency of testing, but are not required to close.


Testing Procedure

School districts shall test staff periodically, as testing capacity permits and as practicable. The recommended testing schedule is 50 percent of school employees every month, rotating testing of all staff over time.

During Governor Newsom’s press conference, he stated that the state contact tracing workforce will prioritize schools.


Closing a School Site/District

A classroom cohort goes home to be quarantined when there is a confirmed case. A school site may close when there are multiple cases in multiple cohorts at a school or when at least 5 percent of the total number of teachers, students, and staff are cases within a 14-day period, depending on the size of the physical layout of the school. A school site may reopen after 14-days with the following conditions:

  • Cleaning and disinfection
  • Public health investigation
  • Consultation with the local public health department

A local health official may determine to close a school site for other reasons, including results from local epidemiological data.

A school district should close if 25 percent or more of schools in a district have closed due to COVID-19 within 14-days, and in consultation with the local public health department.


Updated Industry Guidance

1. General Measures
  • Establish and maintain communication with local and state authorities.
  • Establish a written, worksite-specific COVID-19 prevention plan at every facility and designate a person at each school to implement the plan.
  • Evaluate whether external community organizations can utilize school site(s) and resources.
  • Develop a plan for classroom, groups or entire facilities closures.
  • Develop a plan to support students with necessary accommodations and process for engaging families in preparation of in-classroom and non-classroom environments.
2. Promote Hygiene Practices
  • Teach and reinforce healthy hygiene procedures, such as hand washing, face coverings, and use of protective equipment.
3. Face Coverings (Masks/Shields)
  • Children.
    • Children under 2 years of age: Face covering is not required.
    • Children 2 years old – 2nd grade: Face covering is strongly encouraged.
    • Children 3rd grade – high school: Face covering is recommended, unless exempt. During meal, naptime, or outdoor activities, masks can be removed and placed in a clean paper bag, with child’s name and date.
  • Adults. Staff must use face coverings in accordance with CDPH guidelines, and face shields can be used in the classroom while maintaining physical distance, to the extent practicable. Child nutrition staff must use gloves in addition to face coverings.
  • Schools.
    • Schools must exclude students from campus if they are not exempt from wearing a face covering and refuse to wear a face covering provided by the school, and should offer alternative educational services for students who are excluded from campus.
    • Schools should consider where disposable glove use may be helpful to supplement handwashing or hand sanitizer use.
4. Ensure Teacher and Staff Safety
  • Ensure staff maintain physical distancing and use face coverings in accordance with CDPH guidelines and Cal/OSHA standards, including during staff meetings, professional development and other activities conducted in person.
  • Support staff who are at higher risk for illnesses.
  • Minimize congregation of adults in staff rooms, break rooms and other settings.
5. Intensify Cleaning, Disinfection, and Ventilation
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces throughout the day and buses at least daily, by trained custodial staff.
  • Limit use and sharing of objects and equipment and disinfect between uses if shared.
  • Choose disinfecting products approved for use against COVID-19 on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)- approved list “N” and follow appropriate instructions.
  • Ensure proper ventilation during cleaning and consider installing portable high-efficiency air cleaners or upgrading air filters.
6. Implementing Distance Inside and Outside the Classroom
  • Arrival and Departure. Maximum space on school buses and minimize contact at school by staggering drop off-times and routes for entry and exit.
  • Classroom Space. Staff should develop instructions for maximizing space between seating, desks, and use of outdoor space and minimize movement such as keeping the same students and teachers in the same space or in cohorts.
  • Non-Classroom Spaces. Limit non-essential volunteers and activities and minimize congregate spaces in areas such as hallways or eating meals in a cafeteria. Avoid sharing foods, utensils and buffet/family style meals.
7. Limit Sharing
  • Keep each student’s belongings separated and in labeled storage containers.
  • Limit use of supplies and disinfect in between uses when sharing occurs.
8. Train All Staff and Educate Families
  • Train all staff and provide educational materials to families that provide information such as the importance of physical distancing, sanitation and screening practices, identification of symptoms, and employer plans if a student or adult becomes sick at school.
  • Conduct training virtually or practice social distancing if provided in-person.
9. Check for Signs and Symptoms
  • Check for signs and symptoms by implementing procedures in place that provide screening of symptoms before entering a site and monitoring of temperature throughout the day for all students and staff.
  • Encourage staff and students who are sick, show symptoms or have had close contact with a person with COVID-19 to stay home.
10. Plan for When a Staff Member, Child or Visitor Becomes Sick
  • Symptoms. For those who exhibit symptoms, work with staff to identify an isolation space; establish procedures to arrange for safe transportation home or to a healthcare facility and seek immediate medical attention of symptoms become severe.
  • Testing Positive. Notify local health officials immediately, close off areas used by the individual suspected of being infected and wait 24 hours before disinfecting; advise not to return until they meet CDC criteria. Implement protocols when a school has an outbreak.
  • Distance Learning. Offer distance learning to students who experience symptoms, are sick or whose family member they cohabitate experience symptoms or may be “at-risk”.  
11. Maintain Healthy Operations
  • Monitor staff absenteeism and types of illness.
  • Have a roster of trained-back up staff.
  • Designate and train a staff liaison responsible for COVID-19 concerns.
  • Have communication system for self-reporting of symptoms.
12. Considerations for Reopening and Partial or Total Closures
Coronavirus (COVID-19): A Resource for Parents - Courtesy of CHOC Children’s
CHOC Children's knows how frightening the spread of the 2019 novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) must be for parents. Get answers to your frequently asked questions in this Q & A with CHOC experts.